Floods brought on by three days of heavy rain have claimed 13 lives and left the more than 1 million people living in tent camps since the Jan. 12 earthquake struggling to shore up their makeshift shelters.
The unexpected storms caused the greatest damage in the capital of Port-au-Prince and the towns of Leogane and Carrefour west of the city, near the quake’s epicenter.
Several people were swept away in landslides and flash floods in the coastal mountainous areas.
Niek de Goeij, head of the community resettlement program for Catholic Relief Services in Haiti, told Catholic News Service that this week’s storms were the most recent “act of God” that earthquake victims had to face. “It’s more of the same,” he said.
Two of the transitional shelters constructed by the agency in Carrefour, about 10 miles west of Port-au-Prince, were destroyed, but families living in more than 100 others escaped unharmed.
Further west in Leogane, the United Nations said at least 4,000 people were forced from their homes. Potable water, food and hygiene kits were most in need.
Scattered thunderstorms were expected today and tomorrow, mostly over Haiti’s southern peninsula.
Despite the regular downpours, earthquake-battered Haiti has escaped largely unscathed during this year’s hurricane season, which runs June 1-Dec. 1. No tropical storms have hit the country yet this season, but the country has had two other bouts with severe thunderstorms and flooding since Sept. 24. About 20 people were killed in those storms.
In anticipation of the hurricane season, agencies such as CRS have hired hundreds of Haitians to clean drainage canals and ditches of trash and debris to prevent more extensive flooding.