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Puerto Rico cleaning up after Irene

01:54pm | Mon, August 22, 2011

More than 800,000 households or about half of Puerto Rico was left without power following the passage of Hurricane Irene Sunday night, August 21.

Governor of Puerto Rico, Luis Fortuno says the storm closed more than a dozen roads, knocked down many trees and caused at least two landslides.  

However, no deaths were reported.

He has urged residents to stay home as the island begins cleaning up operations.

Schools and many businesses in the United States island territory are closed as crews assessed the damage.

The governor says people should avoid going out because of the danger posed by fallen live power lines and other hazards.

By Monday morning, August 22, Hurricane Irene was moving west-northwest away from Puerto Rico at roughly 14 miles per hour or 22 kilometres per hour with maximum sustained winds near 75 miles per hour or 120 kilometres per hour.

After moving over Puerto Rico, Irene was expected to approach Hispaniola, the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti, a where nearly 600,000 people still live without shelter after last year's earthquake.

The US National Hurricane Center in Miami said the main impediment to the storm's progress over the next couple of days will be interaction with land.

If Irene passes over Hispaniola's mountains or over parts of eastern Cuba, the storm could weaken more than currently expected.

"However, if the system ends up moving to the north of both of those land masses it could strengthen more than expected," said forecaster Richard Pasch.

In the Dominican Republic, officials assured residents they had food available for 1.5 million people if needed.

Also, soldiers and emergency management crews evacuated dozens of residents from high-risk areas along the southern coast.

"We have taken all precautions," presidential spokesman Rafael Nunez said.

Many stores in the capital of Santo Domingo closed Sunday even as people bought last-minute items like flashlights.

[Source: The Associated Press]