Haiti floods kill 11 people, destroy homes
1,000 homes swamped in south after a week of rain
The Associated Press, May 22, 2009
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Floods have killed at least 11 people this week as heavy rains swamp towns still rebuilding from last year's hurricanes, Haiti's civil protection department said Friday.
Most of the victims were swept away by swollen rivers or died when their flimsy homes collapsed, officials said. Five of the deaths were reported in the rice-growing Artibonite Valley.
Rains that began a week ago have been heaviest on the southern peninsula near Les Cayes and Camp Perrin, where 1,000 homes have been flooded. Some areas received nearly 3 inches of rain Thursday night, Haiti's meteorological office said.
New flood alerts were issued Friday for all of Haiti's 10 administrative regions.
Even small amounts of rain can swell rivers and overflow fields in this poor Caribbean nation, which is particularly vulnerable to flooding because of erosion from farming and deforestation.
President Rene Preval visited the west-coast town of St. Marc to view flooding Wednesday and urged residents to stop building homes in ravines, Radio Kiskeya reported.
With a new hurricane season officially starting June 1, officials worry new floods could damage Haiti's struggling agriculture and economy. Last year, four tropical storms killed some 800 people and caused $1 billion of damage, aggravating chronic malnutrition in several areas.
International donors pledged $324 million last month to help Haiti rebuild, but the government said it could need three times that amount.
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