A week into the Atlantic hurricane season, and even before any storm has hit, officials in Haiti are reporting that more than 20 people have been killed and several others are missing as unrelenting rains cause flooding and mudslides in the country.
At least four neighbourhoods of the city – Carrefour, Cité Soleil, Delmas and Pétion-Ville – as well as the southern areas of Gressier and Les Palmes, have been badly affected by the flooding.
There are fears that the situation could worsen the cholera outbreak which has claimed more than 5,000 lives since October. United Nations peacekeepers and humanitarian staff are assisting local authorities with relief efforts.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said yesterday that there are enough pre-positioned medical kits to assist 120,000 people and emergency shelters ready to house as many as 110,000 families, with trauma kits and cholera kits also available. Stocks of food supplies are also available at short notice if required, OCHA added.
Peacekeepers have also transferred some of the people displaced since the January 2010 earthquake to camps situated on safer ground.
In neighbouring Dominican Republic, where more than 8,000 people have been evacuated from flood prone areas, two people also died, while there has been one death in Jamaica
Several communities in Jamaica have been swamped by the rains and some residents have been marooned.
A Flash Flood Warning for low-lying and flood-prone areas has extended to all parishes in the island and will remain in place until 5 p.m. tomorrow.
Relief from rains soon
The three countries have been experiencing the effects of the area of low pressure that’s been over the western Caribbean the past few days. But forecasters say the pressure is becoming weaker, as have the chances of it developing into a storm. That possibility has now dropped to 10 percent.
The unstable weather conditions are expected to persist into today but there should be some relief later this week.
“We expect gradual improvement across the island during the next 12 to 24 hours,” said the advisory from Jamaica’s Meteorological Centre this morning. “However, cloudy conditions will continue with showers with isolated thunderstorms mostly during the afternoon/evening especially across northern parishes, as the situation return to normal.”
The National Hurricane Centre (NHC) has also warned that the heavy rains could still cause flash floods and mudslides over portions of Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Cuba.
(Parts of this article were written with content submitted in a Caribbean360 publication)