Haiti: Earthquake, Cholera; Tomas Too?

Tomas, which got the region's attention as a Tropical Storm before being upgraded to a Category 2 Hurricane as it whipped its way across the windward islands, has been downgraded. It is now back to its original status as it heads towards Haiti. The system still poses a peripheral threat to neighbouring islands like Jamaica, but Caribbean bloggers are hoping that Haiti will be spared any further devastation; the country is still grappling with the fallout from the January 12 earthquake as well as a recent cholera outbreak.

The Livesay Haiti Weblog is praying that Tomas “grows weak/changes course”; real hope for haiti acknowledges that the storm's projected path is “not good”. The blog later reports:

The exact timing and location of this turn is still uncertain, but the computer models have come into better agreement that Haiti or Jamaica are the most likely targets of Tomas. NHC is giving Port A Prince, Haiti, a 40% chance of receiving tropical storm force winds, and a 5% chance of hurricane force winds. These odds are slightly lower for Kingston, Jamaica–29% and 4%, respectively.

Pwoje Espwa – Hope in Haiti says:

The internet tells us that Tropical Storm Tomas is heading this way. What scares me is the flooding that will happen if there's a lot of rain and, of course, that is predicted. We'll be moving the children to higher ground, purchasing extra food and fuel to see us through this potential disaster and doing what we can to secure our buildings, animals and vehicles. We'll also be doing some more training to prevent the children from drinking bad water and make sure we have plenty of treated water available.

How Can They Hear? posts a link to the National Hurricane Center in Miami and urges God to “command the course of this hurricane to turn away from Haiti so that they are spared additional suffering.”

this isn't grey's anatomy–Haiti medical relief says that she “know[s] what 60 MPH winds (lasting about 60 minutes) can do to a city, trees, billboards, power lines, and tent cities”. The blogger (Jen) was in Haiti for Tropical Storm Noel, which subsequently turned into one of the deadliest hurricanes of the 2007 season:

Though only a tropical storm, the flooding it produced was devastating in many parts of the country, especially the south. I will never forget crossing a river near Cavaillon (in southern Haiti) on the way out to Les Cayes…then crossing over the same river again several days later. The river was perhaps 3-4 times as wide as it had previously been (and was much, much deeper), and everything that had been along its banks was covered in muddy water. This was only one river of many that had severely overflowed its banks.

Based on this experience, Jen continues:

I am scared for what Haiti could experience later this week from this storm. Predictions from several days out can be wrong. But if current predictions are correct, Hurricane Tomas could make landfall as a category 2 hurricane in southern Haiti, with winds of up to 110 MPH possible (and the winds certainly wouldn't last only 60 minutes this time). I am hoping and praying the predictions are wrong, and that Hurricane Tomas continues on westward over the open ocean instead of turning north towards Haiti.


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