PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – Flooding from Tropical Storm Fay killed two people and left two children missing in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, authorities said Saturday as the cyclone spun toward Cuba.

Forecasters said Fay could reach hurricane strength as it approaches central Cuba on Sunday. Fay could then head for Florida, where Gov. Charlie Crist declared a state of emergency Saturday afternoon.

A man died Saturday in Haiti while trying to cross a river in Leogane, south of Port-au-Prince, said Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, head of Haiti’s civil protection department. No further information was immediately available.

Crops in the Artibonite Valley, Haiti’s most fertile region, were flooded, according to reports from Radio Ginen. The extent of the damage was unclear, and agriculture officials could not be reached. Haiti has struggled to cope with a food crisis that sparked deadly riots in April.

The capital’s airport reopened Saturday afternoon, but heavy rains were still expected in the south.

In neighboring Dominican Republic, a 34-year-old woman drowned when a family tried to cross a swollen river in a car, civil defense agency director Luis Luna Paulino said. Her 13-year-old niece and 5-year-old nephew were missing, but her husband swam to safety.

A tropical storm warning was in effect for parts of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Officials in Florida were monitoring the storm closely and planned to activate the state’s emergency operations center Monday.

Forecasters said Fay could bring hurricane-force winds to the Florida Keys as early as Monday.

, but meteorologist Christopher Juckins warned that residents statewide should be prepared for a hurricane.

“The official track brings it off the west coast of Florida Tuesday and Wednesday, however, the track is always uncertain and the entire peninsula of Florida needs to pay attention to the storm,” Juckins said.

Associated Press writer Ramon Almanzar contributed from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.

AP-ES-08-16-08 1606EDT


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.