Haiti: Tras La Tormenta
(CBS/AP) Hurricane Tomas was downgraded to a tropical storm early Saturday as it passed over the Turks and Caicos Islands, losing steam a day after battering seaside towns in Haiti.source
Haiti was pummeled with 85 mph winds and from five to ten inches of rain. A foot of standing water fills the capital of Port-au-Prince, where four people are dead and two are missing. ...
It's been raining all night in Port-au-Prince and, for earthquake refugees living in tent cities, it has been a miserable night, reports CBS News producer John Bentley.
There over a million people living in the portable structures, and the rain has been coming down since the sun went down. The streets are flooded and a lot of rivers and streams are overflowing, causing a lot of problems. But as far as Hurricane Tomas goes, Haiti dodged a bullet - the eye missed Port-au-Prince.
If they didn't get the strong winds and major flooding they were worried about, the other problem will be how the storm affects the water and sewage supplies - important as Haiti battles a cholera epidemic in which 400 people have died.
On Friday, panicked residents fled a coastal city in Haiti that had been slammed twice already this decade by killer floods. The hurricane spared most earthquake-refugee camps in the capital but battered a seaside town to the west that was nearly destroyed by January's earthquake.
Coming ashore at Haiti's far southwestern edge, Tomas slammed the coastline with 85-mph winds and killed at least four people with storm surge and rains.
It then flooded camps harboring earthquake refugees, turning some into squalid islands in Leogane, a town west of the capital that lost 90 percent of its buildings and thousands of people in the Jan. 12 quake. Two people were missing in the city.
Tomas turned streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, into canals of flowing garbage. The storm largely spared the city's vast homeless encampments, however, allaying fears that an estimated 1.3 million displaced people would suffer from high winds and rain on hillsides and in parks and streets.
Haitians had high hopes that the storm would move on before triggering floods in Gonaives, a northwestern coastal city that completely flooded in 2004 and again in 2008, killing thousands. As rains fell on the city's slums of Raboteau and Jubilee, people living in the low-lying areas began heading for high ground.
"It's not a major flood, but it's flooding in some areas," Doctors Without Borders spokesman Francois Servranckx told The Associated Press.
And so the storm has passed Haiti. It has left a new disaster in its wake. And Haiti will now, again, fade from the traditional media and disappear behind a curtain. That would make this a great time to remember the suffering in Haiti and to send a donation-- even small donations mount up-- to Doctors Without Borders.
May all in Haiti be free from suffering. May all be well. May all be safe.