Trop­i­cal Storm Erika kills twenty in Do­minica, drenches Haiti

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Trop­i­cal Storm Erika churned across the Caribbean on Satur­day, a day af­ter sweep­ing over the tiny is­land na­tion of Do­minica and leav­ing at least 20 peo­ple dead.

The storm’s pas­sage came ex­actly 10 years af­ter Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina bat­tered parts the south­ern United States, dev­as­tat­ing New Or­leans in par­tic­u­lar.

Erika un­leashed tor­ren­tial rains on Do­minica — a small is­land coun­try of about 72,000 peo­ple — on Fri­day, trig­ger­ing floods and mud­slides that wrought dev­as­ta­tion.

“The vis­ual dam­age I saw to­day, I fear, may have set our de­vel­op­ment process back by 20 years,” Do­minica Prime Min­is­ter Roo­sevelt Sk­er­rit said af­ter sur­vey­ing the dam­age.

“Of great­est con­cern how­ever, is the loss of life. So far we have con­firmed that at least 20 cit­i­zens have died, and some are miss­ing,” he said.

Highways sus­tained wide­spread dam­age and bridges were washed away, he said.

The U.S. state of Florida de­clared a state of emer­gency and Cuba is­sued an alert as well, as the storm rolled to­wards them.

The U.S. Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter said Erika would likely weaken to a trop­i­cal de­pres­sion as it passes over Cuba.

2,000 Shel­ters

Af­ter pound­ing Do­minica, Erika drenched Haiti where author­i­ties set up emer­gency shel­ters across the coun­try. Hy­giene kits, mat­tress- es and food were stocked at some 2,000 tem­po­rary shel­ters, which are able to ac­com­mo­date more than 47,000 peo­ple.

Ac­cord­ing to an ini­tial tally, three peo­ple were in­jured in the Por­tau-Prince re­gion when a house col­lapsed. Flood­ing was re­ported in two re­gions af­ter heavy rains.

Many homes in Haiti are rick­ety at best and more than 60,000 peo­ple are still liv­ing in emer­gency hous­ing around Port-au-Prince fol­low­ing the coun­try’s dev­as­tat­ing 2010 earth­quake that killed more than 250,000 peo­ple and crip­pled the na­tion’s in­fra­struc­ture.

Haiti is lo­cated on the western half of the is­land of His­pan­iola, which also in­cludes the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic.

Erika was ex­pected to pro­duce to­tal rain­fall ac­cu­mu­la­tions of 7.6 to 15.2 cen­time­ters with max­i­mum amounts of 25 cen­time­ters pos­si­ble across por­tions of the Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic, Haiti and eastern Cuba through Sun­day, the hur­ri­cane cen­ter said.

“These rains could cause lifethreat­en­ing flash floods and mud­slides,” the cen­ter said in a state­ment.

Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic author­i­ties had is­sued a red alert as schools, beaches and ports were closed and civil pro­tec­tion or­ga­ni­za­tions were or­dered to be at the ready.

In Puerto Rico, Erika left nearly 150,000 peo­ple with­out power, but ap­peared not to have caused ma­jor dam­age.

The storm’s ap­proach also set off a scram­ble as far north as Florida, where the gover­nor de­clared a state of emer­gency.

“Trop­i­cal Storm Erika poses a se­vere threat to the en­tire state of Florida and re­quires that timely pre­cau­tions are taken to pro­tect the com­mu­ni­ties, crit­i­cal in­fra­struc­ture and gen­eral wel­fare of this state,” Gover­nor Rick Scott said.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama had been briefed about prepa­ra­tions for Erika’s pos­si­ble land­fall in the United States.

New Or­leans will mark the 10th an­niver­sary of Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina on Satur­day, with solemn me­mo­ri­als for the more than 1,800 vic­tims as well as bois­ter­ous mu­si­cal per­for­mances to com­mem­o­rate the city’s re­silience.

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