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Caribbean Prepares for Hurricane

September 19, 1998

FORT-DE-FRANCE, Martinique (AP) _ Residents of small islands in the eastern Caribbean stocked up on food and water Saturday as Hurricane Georges grew bigger and stronger and moved closer.

Hurricane watches, already posted from St. Lucia to Anguilla, were extended Saturday to the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. People were calm, but they also were taking the growing storm seriously.

``I just pulled up two of my boats out of the water,″ said David Armour, a resident on Dominica, the mountainous island that lies directly in Georges’ path. ``The gas stations are full. People are filling their tanks.″

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said at 2 p.m. EDT on Saturday that Georges was centered about 510 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. Its winds had strengthened to 125 mph, with stronger gusts, and was expected to begin affecting the islands Sunday.

Georges was moving almost due west at 18 mph, slightly slower than its progress Friday.

A reconnaissance plane was expected to fly into the hurricane Saturday to confirm estimations of its strength made by the Hurricane Center based on satellite images.

Hurricane watches were posted Friday in St. Lucia, Dominica, Martinique, Guadeloupe, Saba, Antigua, St. Maarten, Anguilla and other islands as disaster preparedness teams met to plan for Georges, the fourth hurricane of the Atlantic season. The Hurricane Center said the watches could be upgraded to warnings later Saturday.

Georges grew not only stronger, but also bigger overnight. The Hurricane Center said the storm now has hurricane force winds extending 45 miles from its center, and tropical storm force winds extended outward to 200 miles.

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