Hurricane Tomas Floods Tent City

In Americas, Floods & Storms, News Headlines

Heavy rains have lashed Haiti flooding one of the capital’s largest refugee camps, triggering mud slides in the south, and leaving three people dead, local media and civil defense officials say.

A makeshift camp for the homeless set up following the January quake which ravaged Port-au-Prince was already swamped after Hurricane Tomas began dumping rains over the country late Thursday.

The tent city near the ruined presidential palace, home to thousands of dispossessed, was already swimming in several centimetres of water, radio Vision 2000 said.

“The wind has not yet picked up, but the rains are falling harder and harder in Port-au-Prince,” aid worker Marianna Franco, from the non-governmental organization ACTED said.

One person was killed late Thursday when he tried to cross a swollen river by car, Interior Minister Paul-Antoine Bien-Aime said.

Flooding sparked by heavy rain from Hurriance Tomas killed another two people Friday, bringing the island’s death toll to three.

Tomas is forecast to bring 12 to 25 centimetres of rain to much of Haiti, with isolated areas being drenched with 38 centimetres, US weather experts said.

Residents in the battered capital were trying to tie down the tarpaulins and plastic sheeting which serve as roofs to their ramshackle homes.

And in the slums of Petionville, in the north of the capital, residents were cutting off branches dangerously hanging down from trees.

ACTED has pre-positioned 8000 emergency kits in five sites around the country which include tarpaulins, ropes and poles to help rebuild ruined tents.

“These 8000 kits could help some 43,000 people,” said Marianna Franco.

Tomas regained hurricane strength on Friday as it churned in the Caribbean, the Miami-based US National Hurricane Centre said, adding it was packing winds of about 135 kilometres an hour.

The category one storm was passing close to the southwestern peninsula of Haiti early Friday, with the centre due to move past western Haiti.

“Hurricane conditions are likely occurring over portions of the southwestern peninsula of Haiti,” the hurricane centre warned.

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