SAMANA, Dominican Republic – A tropical storm (search) once again, Jeanne headed for the Bahamas (search) on Saturday after rampaging through the Dominican Republic. Forecasters said it was too soon to predict if the storm would hit the United States.
Blamed for at least eight deaths, Jeanne had lost strength even as it drove thousands of Dominicans from their homes. But late Friday, a few hours after being downgraded to a tropical depression when its winds dipped below 39 mph, it strengthened again into a tropical storm.
The storm stalled over the Dominican Republic (search) after coming ashore Thursday as a hurricane, with winds near 80 mph. It raged through Puerto Rico on Wednesday, dumping up to two feet of rain, flooding hundreds of homes and downing power lines.
The storm was on course to hit the Bahamas late Saturday, and Brian Jarvinen at the National Hurricane Center in Miami said Florida wasn't "out of the woods yet."
The storm killed five people in the Dominican Republic on Friday, said Juan Luis German, spokesman for the National Emergency Committee.
Two people were swept away by rivers; one man was killed by a falling tree; another had a heart attack and couldn't reach the hospital; and a man on a motorcycle died when winds slammed him into a telephone pole. A baby also died Thursday in a landslide.
Two people died Wednesday in Puerto Rico, where rain was still falling Saturday morning. Half the island's 4 million residents were without running water for a fourth day, and 70 percent were without electricity.
President Bush declared the U.S. territory a disaster zone on Friday, responding to Gov. Sila Calderon's plea for aid. Calderon said the agriculture industry's losses were estimated at $100 million.
In the Dominican, thousands were stranded on rooftops of flooded homes in San Pedro de Macoris, where the River Soco burst its banks. Authorities used helicopters and jeeps to rescue the people in the northeastern fishing town, birthplace of baseball star Sammy Sosa.
In Samana, a north-coast Dominican town popular with European tourists, people felt hurricane-force gusts driving horizontal sheets of rain. Jeanne tore off dozens of roofs in the town and brought down some concrete walls.
"My house is made of wood so I know it can't hold up to these winds," said Amanda Cibel, 23, who had fled to a shelter in Samana. "It's going to be terrible to go home and find nothing."
More than 8,200 people were evacuated and took refuge in shelters set up in schools and churches, officials said.
"I've seen strong storms but never like this," said Elizabeth Javier, 12, standing where her family's living room used to be. The storm demolished one wall and the entire roof.
At 11 a.m. EDT, Jeanne was near Great Inagua Island in the southeast Bahamas. It was moving north-northwest around 7 mph with maximum sustained winds near 50 mph.
A tropical storm warning was in effect for the southeastern Bahamas.
Far out at sea, the 11th named storm of a busy Atlantic hurricane season formed. Hurricane Karl posed no immediate threat to land, forecasters said.