Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tropical storm Emily Kills 4 - damage was extensive in the Dominican Republic but Haiti escaped largely unruffled

Though it fell apart in the high mountains, Tropical Storm Emily’s passage across the island of Hispaniola proved deadly and destructive — but not as devastating as feared.

Authorities were still surveying damage Friday but the toll appeared heaviest in the Dominican Republic, where three deaths were reported, all from drowning. Nearly 7,000 people were left at least temporarily homeless by flooding and 56 communities remained cut off by road or bridge collapses, with some rivers still swelling from as much as a foot of rain

In Haiti, one body was found in ravine near the southern coastal city of Les Cayes, but the cause of death had not yet been determined. There were only scattered reports of flooded homes and villages, downed trees and light damage to crops on the southern peninsula, which had been closest to Emily’s core.

Alta Jean Baptiste, Haiti’s civil protection director, said the nation had largely escaped Emily’s wrath. After a series of catastrophic floods and mud slides that killed thousands in previous storms, he said residents are paying close heed to warnings and cooperating with evacuation orders.

“The population is understanding more and more the necessity of protecting themselves, before the damages occur,” he said.

But fortune also again smiled on Haiti. Just like with Hurricane Tomas last November, the capital city of Port-au-Prince, crowded with some 600,000 people still living in tents 18 months after a devastating earthquake, suffered little damage or flooding. Read More