Hurricane adds to Haiti¹s woes, 4 dead in floods
Associated Press, By JONATHAN M. KATZ, November 6, 2010 12:48
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti ‹ Hurricane Tomas flooded camps of earthquake
refugees, turning some into squalid islands Friday as it battered Haiti¹s
rural western tip, while largely sparing the vast homeless encampments in
the shattered capital.
Aid workers rushed to guard against the spread of disease as the storm moved
into the region where thousands are infected with cholera.
Driving 85 mph winds and a lashing storm surge battered Leogane, a seaside
town west of Port-au-Prince that was 90 percent destroyed in the Jan. 12
In one refugee camp, dozens of families carried their belongings through
thigh-high floodwaters to a taxi stand on higher ground, huddling under
blankets and a sign that read ³Welcome to Leogane.²
³We got flooded out and we¹re just waiting for the storm to pass. There¹s
nothing we can do,² said Johnny Joseph, a 20-year-old resident.
Four deaths were confirmed by Haitian officials, all people attempting to
cross rivers by car or on foot in the mountainous region to the west of
Leogane, on Haiti¹s far southwestern tip. Two more people were missing in
Tomas had earlier killed at least 14 people in the eastern Caribbean. On
Friday it came ashore as a Category 1 hurricane, pummeling Haiti¹s southern
peninsula, before moving on to the rest of the country, eastern Cuba and the
It could be days before the storm¹s impact is known as reports filter in
from isolated mountain towns cut off by the flooding. But as officials took
stock and aid workers rushed to contain flood damage and the widening
cholera epidemic, the storm left harsh reminders of poverty¹s toll on the
³We have two catastrophes that we are managing. The first is the hurricane
and the second is cholera,² President Rene Preval told the nation in a
television and radio address.
He could have included a third. Ten months after the magnitude-7 earthquake
shook the capital to the ground, the devastation can still be seen in scores
of collapsed buildings and sprawling refugee camps.
The disasters mingled in Leogane, where milky brown floodwaters filled
quake-cracked streets and cut off a camp that was home to hundreds of
³We have an assessment team there now and there¹s a couple towns that have
been damaged from some flooding and some wind damage,² said Steve McAndrew,
head of operations for the American Red Cross.
The storm¹s center was about 140 miles northwest of Port-au-Prince, where a
thick gray canopy of clouds hung over the capital and a steady downpour
turned streets into flowing canals that carried garbage through the city.
Haitian authorities had urged the 1.3 million Haitians left homeless by the
earthquake to leave the camps and go to the homes of friends and family.
Buses were sent to take those who wanted to evacuate to shelters.
But many chose to stay, fearing they would come back to find that they had
been evicted from the private land where they have been camped out since the
quake, living in donated plastic tarps, or that their few possessions would
be stolen before they returned.
A near-riot broke out amid a poorly coordinated relocation effort at the
government¹s flagship camp at Corail-Cesselesse when residents began
overturning tables and throwing bottles to protest what they saw as a forced