A tropical storm system is threatening to unleash flash flooding and mudslides on the area of Haiti where a 7.2-magnitude earthquake on Saturday killed at least 1,419 people.
Tropical Depression Grace was approaching the southern coast of Hispaniola, the island comprising Haiti and the Dominican Republic, early Monday bringing with it sustained winds, CNN meteorologist Haley Brink said. Tropical storm conditions are possible in the region later today, Brink said, adding that several inches of rain are forecast — with up to 15 inches (38 centimeters) possible in some isolated areas — through Tuesday. “I am worried about the upcoming storm as it can complicate the situation for us,” Jerry Chandler, head of Haiti’s civil protection agency, said on Sunday.
Hospitals are struggling to treat victims of the earthquake. In addition to the known deaths, the weekend’s earthquake injured at least 6,900 people — numbers that are only expected to rise as search and rescue efforts continue. Local hospitals have told CNN that they are inundated with victims, and desperately in need of medical supplies. The quake also destroyed and damaged tens of thousands of homes, according to the civil protection agency, and blocked roads and wrecked infrastructure, making it difficult for vital supplies to reach the affected areas. Efforts are currently underway to repair the roads between the badly hit city of Les Cayes and the town of Jeremie — roads which were further obstructed overnight due to aftershocks and mudslides. With rain on the way, Chandler told CNN that “possible floods in the affected area by the earthquake” could “be a complication to an already complicated situation.” Many people are sleeping outdoors since the quake.
Meanwhile, frustration is growing with the Haitian government’s slow rollout of help. “We really need help, yesterday I was helping at the hospital and things were out of control,” a volunteer named Marcelin Lorejoie told CNN on Sunday. “Not enough doctors, not enough medicines and we have people with serious injuries. We need urgent help before things (get) more complicated.” On Monday, Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry promised to accelerate aid and rescue efforts. “We will increase our efforts tenfold to reach, in terms of assistance, the maximum number of victims possible,” he wrote on Twitter. ” Faced with this emergency, there is no respite.”
Authorities are currently going from house to house in search of survivors — efforts which demand a tremendous amount of resources. At the site of one collapsed hotel, a CNN team saw just one excavator, which was not working at the time. There was no police or security presence nearby, as people carried air conditioning units away from the wrecked building. Haiti — mired with a floundering economy and emerging from the aftershocks of the July assassination of its late President Jovenel Moise — relies heavily on donor countries and organizations for its relief efforts. Chandler said they were working with foreign donor countries to ensure the basic emergency needs of Haitians affected by the earthquake are met. The US military’s Southern Command has been coordinating with inter-agency partners since Saturday to “assess the situation and provide support in the wake of the earthquake” in Haiti, Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said during an off-camera briefing on Monday They have sent a team of 14 military personnel to assess the situation in Haiti, while the US Navy is aiding with “unmanned and manned aircraft to provide aerial images of earthquake devastation,” Kirby said. The earthquake struck at 8:30 a.m. local time on Saturday, at a depth of about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles); its epicenter was about 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) northeast of Saint-Louis-du-Sud in the southwest part of the country. That location is about 96 kilometers (60 miles) west of the epicenter of the disastrous 7.0-magnitude quake that killed an estimated 220,000 to 300,000 people in 2010.