PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos (AP) _ Hurricane Hanna slumped to tropical storm strength while grinding away at the Bahamas and other Atlantic islands on Tuesday, and forecasters said it still poses a hurricane threat to the U.S. East Coast.
The storm snapped trees and kept Providenciales, capital of the Turks and Caicos islands, without power. It hurled rains that caused flooding across Cuba, Haiti and Puerto Rico, where at least one university student died in a rain-swollen river.
Hanna's maximum sustained winds slipped to 70 mph (110 kph), but the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said it could regain hurricane strength of 74 mph (119 kph) within a day. Forecasters say it could hit the U.S. coast by Friday or Saturday.
"It is important to note that Hanna is expected to continue to intensify" before it hits land, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said Tuesday morning. "Hanna could be a major hurricane."
But Hanna's movement has been agonizingly slow for people in the tourist magnets of the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos, directly under its winds.
The storm was close to Great Inagua Island Tuesday morning and was drifting toward the west at about 2 mph (4 kph). The hurricane center said it would move over the southeastern Bahamas Tuesday and then into the central part of the island chain by Wednesday.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage in the Turks and Caicos or Bahamas, but officials would assess the situation once the storm has cleared, said Stephen Russell, interim director of the Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency.
Newly formed Tropical Storm Ike was cruising westward across the Atlantic and was projected to near the storm-weary Bahamas by Sunday. It had winds of 50 mph (85 kph) and was expected to grow stronger.
Floods caused by Hanna caused flooding that killed a man from Colombia and left a Brazilian woman missing on Monday. The two were students at the University of Puerto Rico on a trip to the island's east.
People living near the northwestern Haitian city of Gonaives told Radio Caraibes that floods there sent residents fleeing to their roofs. Officials did not immediately confirm the report.
That region still bears the scars of 2004's Tropical Storm Jeanne, which killed some 3,000 people in Gonaives.
More than 8,000 Haitians remain homeless in the wake of Hurricane Gustav, which was downgraded to a tropical storm as it moved over central Louisiana late Monday.
At least 95 people have been killed by storms in Haiti in the last month alone.
Hanna prompted NASA to put off shifting the space shuttle Atlantis from an assembly building at Florida's Kennedy Space Center to the launch pad for at least a day. The move had been scheduled for Tuesday in preparation for an October mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.
Tourists Jason and Carolina Volpi were out of luck as they tried to leave the Turks and Caicos on Monday. The Providenciales airport was shut down and all flights were canceled. They couldn't get seats out until Thursday, too late to attend business meetings back in Italy.
"The situation is very frustrating," Jason Volpi, 36, said as they waited under darkening skies for a taxi back to their hotel.
The European Union said Monday it would give €2 million (US$2.9 million) to help the recovery from Gustav, which killed at least 94 people. The money will pay for clean water, food, medical care, shelter and basic household items in Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.