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Far to the west, the Sol Cayo Coco beach resort moved guests out of ground floor rooms. Intermittent rains and gusty winds buffeted Havana, 560 miles (900 kilometers) away.
Cuba has a highly organized civil defense system that goes door-to-door to enforce evacuations of at-risk areas, largely averting casualties from storms even when they cause major flooding and significant damage to crops.
Near the island’s southeastern tip, the U.S. military was expecting winds of up to 40 mph (65 mph) at the Guantanamo Bay naval base, said Navy Capt. Robert Durand, a spokesman for the prison there.
Ahead of the storm, roads were closed to all but emergency vehicles, the Navy suspended the ferry service that connects the two sections of the base across Guantanamo Bay and many smaller craft were pulled from the water, Durand said. All 168 prisoners were in buildings capable of withstanding storm-force winds and the guards were bunking inside prison facilities instead of returning to their quarters for the night.
One hurricane and three tropical storms have hit the base since the U.S. military opened a detention center there in January 2002. The most recent was Hurricane Thomas in November 2010, when the Navy recorded winds of 60 mph.
Authorities in the Dominican Republic evacuated nearly 7,800 people from low-lying areas, and at least 10 rural settlements were cut off by flooding, according to Juan Manuel Mendez, director of rescue teams. Power was knocked out in parts of the capital, Santo Domingo.
There were no reports of injuries, but 49 homes across the country were destroyed.
Rainfall was expected to reach up to 12 inches (300 millimeters) over the weekend.
"We still have a big cloudy area over the island that will produce lots of rain" until Sunday afternoon, said Francisco Holguin of the local meteorological agency.
Associated Press journalists Trenton Daniel and Evens Sanon in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Anne-Marie Garcia in Havana; Fernando Gonzalez in Baracoa, Cuba; and Ezequiel Abiu Lopez in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, contributed to this report.
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