Tropical Storm Isaac floods Haiti, at least 3 dead
By Trenton Daniel
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Tropical Storm Isaac pushed into Cuba Saturday after sweeping through Haiti’s southern peninsula, where it doused a nation still trying to recover from the terrible 2010 earthquake.
At least three Haitians were reported dead; a woman and a child in Souvenance and a 10-year-old girl in Thomazeau.Thousands were evacuated because of flooding.
Weather forecasters say Issac poses a threat to Florida Monday and Tuesday, just as the Republican Partygathers for its national convention in Tampa. Tropical storm conditions are expected to reach south Florida with hurricane conditions possible over the southernmost Florida peninsula by Sunday night.
Saturday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency, beginning Sunday in the Florida Keys in the Panhandle, to allow cities and counites to begin preparing for potential storm impact. Forecasters said the storm was likely to march up the Gulf of Mexico, offshore of Florida’s west coast, as a hurricane on Monday.
Tampa was within the storm’s possible strike zone, but the most likely course would carry it toward landfall on the Panhandle late Tuesday or early Wednesday. Convention organizers say there are no plans to cancel the convention, expected to attract 70,000 delegates, journalists and protesters.
In Haiti, the sprawling seaside shantytown of Cite Soleil was among the areas that flooded.
“From last night, we’re in misery,” said Cite Soleil resident Jean-Gymar Joseph. “All our children are sleeping in the mud, in the rain.”
More than 50 tents in a quake settlement collapsed, forcing people to scramble through the mud to try to save their belongings.
Forecasters said Isaac could dump as much as eight to 12 inches and even up to 20 inches on Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as well as produce a storm surge of up to 3 feet.
Tropical force winds extended nearly 200 miles from the storm’s center.
In Cuba, six eastern provinces and five central provinces were put on preliminary watch. Vacationers in those regions were evacuated.
State television began an all-day transmission of news about the storm on Saturday.
Radio Baracoa, from the city of Baracoa on the northern coast of eastern Cuba, reported that high seas began topping the city’s seawall Friday night. Reports said lower than normal rains had left reservoirs well below capacity and in good shape to absorb runoff.
Cuba has a highly organized civil defense system that goes door-to-door to enforce evacuations of at-risk areas, largely averting casualties from storms even when they cause major flooding and significant damage to crops.
In the Dominican Republic, authorities evacuated people from low-lying areas but, as in Haiti, they encountered resistance. Still, authorities said they evacuated nearly 2,900 people. The majority were transferred to the homes of relatives while about 300 were sent to government shelters.
Flooding was reported in Santo Domingo and Santiago but no reports of injuries.