LES CAYES, Haiti – Dark clouds hovered over Haiti as Tropical Storm Lili began unleashing stinging rains, moving closer to Guantanamo Bay where 600 suspected terrorists are being held by U.S. officials.
Lili, expected to lick the Haitian coastline later Thursday or early Friday, had residents along the Caribbean country's southwestern coast scrambling to prepare.
"I'm now in the hands of God," said Lisio Jacques, a 25-year-old farmer and father of four in Cavaillon, about 50 miles southwest of the capital, Port-au-Prince.
In 1998 when Hurricane Georges struck, Jacques watched part of his hut collapse when the Martineau River rose. In May, heavy rains swept away his field of corn, beans and millet. Now Lili looms.
"We're not going to move until the water wets our feet," he said.
Radio announcers urged Haitians to stock up on water and food, and move to higher ground. In 1994, Tropical Storm Gordon killed at least 829 Haitians. Many of the deaths occurred from mudslides.
At 5 a.m. EDT, Lili was about 280 miles southwest of Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic's capital. The storm was moving west at about 6 mph, with maximum winds of about 40 mph.
Forecasters issued warnings for the southern Dominican Republic and Haiti, which share the island of Hispaniola, and Jamaica.
Lili was expected to reach Guantanamo Bay Naval Base at Cuba's eastern tip late Friday or early Saturday. The storm could carry enough winds and rains to warrant moving the 598 detainees to a "hardened, secure" location away from their seaside cells, U.S. military officials said.
The detainees, accused of links to the fallen Taliban regime of Afghanistan or Al Qaeda terrorist network, are being held in trailor-like cells just over a quarter of a mile from the ocean.
Lili caused at least four deaths in St. Vincent early Tuesday, when a mudslide slammed into a home, crushing a mother and three children.
Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Kyle was upgraded to a hurricane, the season's third. The storm, about 490 miles southeast of Bermuda with 85 mph winds, was only expected to affect shipping interests.