Storm watch: Eds: Updates death toll on Hispaniola to 10. With AP Photos.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – Haitians began to dig themselves out of the mud on Sunday, one day after Tropical Storm Isaac doused the Caribbean nation and killed eight people here and another two in neighboring Dominican Republic.
With a reported total of 10 deaths for the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by the two countries, the scale of devastation was less than many people had feared.
But the capital and countryside of disaster-prone Haiti did suffer sporadic flooding, fallen poles and scores of toppled tents that housed people who lost their homes in the massive 2010 earthquake.
Joseph Edgard Celestin of Haiti’s Civil Protection Office offered few details on the storm-related deaths, but said one man was swept away as he tried to cross a river in a village in the country’s north.
Haiti’s Civil Protection Office said in a separate report that a 51-year-old woman was killed in the southern coastal town of Marigot after a tree fell on her home. A 10-year-old girl was killed in the village of Thomazeau after a wall collapsed on her.
In neighboring Dominican Republic, police reported that two men were swept away by flooded rivers that burst their banks. One victim was identified as Pedro Peralta, a former mayor in Villa Altagracia, a town northwest of the capital of Santo Domingo. His body was recovered Sunday by rescuers on the banks of the Haina River.
Another male victim, whose identity was not disclosed, was swept away by the Yaguaza River, Dominican police said.
Across Haiti, the number of people evacuated due to flooding rose over the weekend. More than 14,000 people had left their homes and another 13,500 people were living in temporary shelters until Saturday night, the Civil Protection Office reported. Some 8,400 evacuees were in the country’s western department, the most populous and where the capital of Port-au-Prince is located.
The World Food Program had distributed two days of food to 8,300 of the people who had left their houses for 18 camps.
The Haitian government reported that a dozen houses were destroyed and another 269 damaged.
Impoverished Haiti is prone to flooding and mudslides because much of the country is heavily deforested and rainwater rushes down barren mountainsides. It’s not uncommon for storms to turn deadly; a storm in the Caribbean last year unleashed mudslides that killed more than 20 people in the capital.
In Fourgy, a hardscrabble neighborhood in the northern part of Port-au-Prince, residents used buckets and brooms to clean out mud from their homes and courtyards as chocolate-color flood waters from the nearby Grise River began to recede.
The water arrived early Saturday morning, rising up to the waist of an average adult, but by Sunday it had dropped to about shin high. Still, it was enough to destroy the few belongings of some people.
Rene Stevenson readily gave an inventory of possessions lost to the flood: bed, radio, TV set, plastic chairs.
“Everything’s totally lost,” fumed Stevenson, a 24-year-old cab driver with dried mud on his bare chest.
If mud caused anguish in Fourgy, wind was the source of despair down the street in Pwa Kongo neighborhood. Isaac blew down rows of tents and other temporary shelters people had lived since they lost their homes in the 2010 earthquake.
Displaced again, the several dozen occupants took their belongings and spent Saturday night sleeping on the wooden pews of a small church next door.
“There’s a church so we’re here,” said Arel Homme Derastel, a 32-year-old father of three. “All’s broken.”
Associated Press writer Ezequiel Lopez Blanco contributed to this report from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.