Wednesday, September 3, 2008
SAINT-MARC, Haiti, Sept. 2 -- Haitian families scrambled onto rooftops and screamed for help Tuesday in a city flooded by Tropical Storm Hanna, as U.N. peacekeepers and rescue convoys tried in vain to reach them.
By Tuesday night, Hanna had claimed 21 lives in Haiti, including 12 in the state containing the cutoff city of Gonaives, said Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste of the country's civil protection office in Port-au-Prince, the capital.
Iris Norsil, 20, managed to flee Gonaives on Haiti's western shore. She reported that people there were isolated by muddy floodwaters as evening fell, seeking refuge on rooftops as wind gusts drove horizontal sheets of rain.
"They are screaming for help," Norsil said as a U.N. aid convoy tried unsuccessfully to drive into Gonaives, now surrounded by a virtual lake of floodwaters.
A convoy carrying Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis had to abandon efforts at getting into Gonaives when one car was nearly swept away, said Julian Frantz, a Haitian police officer with the group.
Heavy rain from the storm's outer bands fell relentlessly in Haiti, a country still recovering from drenchings by Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Fay in the past two weeks. Floods and mudslides from the three storms have killed more than 100 people in Haiti.
Hanna's maximum sustained winds slipped to 65 mph, but the National Hurricane Center in Miami said it could regain hurricane strength and turn toward Florida, Georgia or South Carolina in two to three days.