Caribbean Islands,Texans Dealing Storms and Brace for Hurricane Dean

MIAMI (AP) - The government of Jamaica is opening shelters nationwide as Hurricane Dean approaches with its 150-mile-per-hour winds.

The Category 4 storm has been gaining strength as it steams across the central Caribbean. Forecasters say Dean could grow into a a monster Category 5 hurricane - the most powerful - within 72 hours.

The storm is barreling across the eastern Caribbean and aiming for Hispaniola, Jamaica and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. The storm is expected to hit Jamaica tomorrow and pick up even more power as it bears down on the Yucatan Peninsula Monday. It's also expected to steer into the Gulf of Mexico, with its 4,000 oil and gas platforms. It could hit the U.S. mainland sometime Wednesday.

Texans are battling rain and flooding from the remnants of Tropical Storm Erin, even as they keep watch on a possible threat from powerful Hurricane Dean.

The deaths of at least six people this week are blamed on Erin's thunderstorms. One person remains missing.

Meanwhile, Dean is picking up strength as it makes its way through the Caribbean.

Forecasters say Dean could threaten the United States by Wednesday -- and possibly steer into the Gulf of Mexico, with its 4,000 oil and gas platforms.

In Texas, state officials are preparing for the worst. Governor Rick Perry declared the storm an "imminent threat." Fuel trucks have been dispatched to coastal communities, storm-response task forces are on alert and supply trucks and other resources are ready along evacuation routes.