Tropical Storm Alpha brought torrential rains that killed 26 people in Haiti and the Dominican Republic this week, days after Hurricane Wilma also caused death and destruction in the countries, officials said Wednesday.
Alpha, the 22nd named tropical cyclone of the Atlantic hurricane season, drenched the two countries, which share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, on Monday and caused flash floods that swept away people, houses and animals.
Mountainous Haiti, where 17 people were reported killed, is especially vulnerable to floods and mudslides because much of the impoverished country has been stripped of trees by desperately poor people whose main source of fuel is charcoal. Nine people died in the Dominican Republic, officials said. Six of the Dominican deaths occurred in the coastal province of Puerto Plata, in the north, when a river broke its banks.
Wilma, which cut across Mexico and the Caribbean last week before striking Florida, killed at least 13 people in Haiti and Jamaica and six in Mexico, authorities reported.
On Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, meanwhile, at least 20,000 tourists were trying to escape the beach resort of Cancun, heavily damaged by Hurricane Wilma.
Three U.S. commercial airlines ran flights from Cancun for the first time since Wilma tore in last Thursday, and there was chaos at the airport as tourists scrambled to get one of up to 6,000 seats available.
Many were willing to fly almost anywhere after spending six nights sleeping alongside strangers in grim shelters with no electricity, little food or drinking water, overflowing toilets and intense heat.
Some complained that they were abandoned by their governments.
"I haven't seen any American help anywhere," said Bud Botzon, 44, who owns an auto repair shop in Spokane, Wash., and was waiting with his wife for word on flights home.