At least five people are dead in Haiti, where persistent rainfall from Tropical Storm Laura Sunday buried large swaths of the country under murky floodwaters as the storm unleashed flash floods in the southeast, wind gusts of 50 miles per hour in the north and caused the country’s main dam, Péligre, in the Central Plateau, to overflow.

Even Port-au-Prince’s main international airport wasn’t spared flooding, as disaster officials raised the severe weather alert from orange to red, their highest, and began evacuations in various regions of the country. 

“Five people are already dead, and it’s five too much,” Prime Minister Joseph Jouthe, speaking at a press conference shortly after 1 p.m., said at a press conference about the deaths registered in the southeast and west regions. “You have to continue to take precautions.”

In a 10 a.m. advisory, Haitians were warned that all of the country was being threatened by Laura.

“Generalized heavy rain accompanied by sustained wind gusts is currently being observed throughout the country,” Haiti’s 10 a.m. bulletin on Tropical Storm Laura read. “Some [regions] of the country including the northeast, Artibonite, center, west and southeast already have 100 percent soil saturation.”

The storm was moving over Haiti with a west-northwest trajectory at about 19 miles per hour. The forecasts called for heavy torrential rainfall and strong wind gusts throughout the country. Accumulations of rainfall of between 3 inches and 12 inches were expected in some parts of the country, particularly in the Nippes, Grand Anse, west and southeast were flash floods caused the death of a 10-year-old girl in Anse-à-Pitre near the Dominican-Haiti border.

A woman in her 50s was also killed in the Marbial, a community in southeast Haiti, while crossing the river Gosseline. 

In a communique, the government said Jouthe, who also heads the National Committee for Risk and Disaster Management, regrets the death of the 10-year-old girl and the damages caused by Laura in Anse-à-Pitre. The girl died when a tree fell on her house, Berla Severin, a spokesperson with the Office of Civil Protection, told the Miami Herald. 

With the storm expected to batter Haiti into Sunday, Haitians were warned by the Office of Civil Protection that there was a risk of severe to extreme flooding, flash floods, landslides, mudslides and dangerous seas.

“Do not cross rivers,” Interior Minister Audain Fils Bernadel said, reminding Haitians that weather conditions remain threatening as the system passes over Haiti throughout the day. Continue reading

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