Hurricane Elsa, downgraded to tropical storm, approaches Haiti

AFP, published on Saturday 03 July 2021 at 22:02

Hurricane Elsa was downgraded to a tropical storm on Saturday afternoon as it approached Haiti and the Dominican Republic, bringing with it high winds and heavy rainfall.

Elsa, who is expected to head to Florida next, became the first hurricane of the season in the Atlantic on Friday, when it was rated a category one (out of five) on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

But its wind gusts should ultimately not exceed 110 km / h, according to the US National Hurricane Center (NHC), and should continue to weaken on Sunday.

Southern Haiti remained on alert and was preparing for the arrival of “strong gusts of wind”, “severe flooding” and “mudslides”, according to Haitian civil protection.

According to NHC forecasts, “Elsa will move closer to the southern coast of Hispaniola” (an island on which both Haiti and the Dominican Republic are located) on Saturday and overnight, then Jamaica and parts of the east. from Cuba on Sunday.

“By Monday Elsa is expected to pass over central and western Cuba heading for the Straits of Florida” and is expected to move “near or over part of the west coast of Florida on Tuesday” , according to the same source.

The tropical storm could raise sea levels up to 1.5 meters south of Cuba, about 1.2 meters on the coast of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The Haitian authorities had raised the alert level in red vigilance on Saturday morning, or the maximum, for the entire country.

Haiti could run out of emergency supplies, such as water and food, as relief stocks have been used to help the thousands of people displaced by gang violence.

– Gang violence –

“Since the beginning of June, we have had displaced people in the metropolitan area for whom we had to mobilize part of our resources which were prepared for the hurricane season,” Jerry Chandler, director told AFP. of the Haitian civil protection.

It has been a month since thousands of residents of several very poor neighborhoods in the capital Port-au-Prince, theaters of clashes between gangs, were forced to flee their homes.

A few hours before the onset of bad weather, the Haitian civil protection was working to replenish stocks of food and emergency equipment, but the security crisis made it difficult for them.

The gangs, which control part of the only national road connecting the southern departments to the capital, prevent the free movement of goods.

Even if the authorities had sufficient stocks, “it would be necessary to be able to transport them. To be able to access the departments which are threatened, in the south, we must pass in the + red zones +”, explained Jerry Chandler.

In October 2016, southern Haiti was ravaged by Category 4 Hurricane Matthew, which killed more than 500 people and caused nearly $ 2 billion in damage.

In southern Florida, Tropical Storm Elsa could bring precipitation, flooding and strong wind gusts, but that will depend on how it develops as it progresses through the Caribbean islands, according to the NHC.

Elsa is expected to reach the Keys archipelago, south of the US state, around 2:00 a.m. (6:00 a.m. GMT) Tuesday, then ascend towards Jacksonville.

The weather phenomenon worries in Surfside, where help is activated in the rubble of a building that partially collapsed last week, leaving at least 24 dead and 124 missing.

The authorities chose to speed up the demolition of the rest of the building, which they feared would collapse in turn, so that it could be completed before the storm arrived.

In the state, 2.6 million drivers are expected to hit the road for the weekend of July 4, that of the Independence Day of the United States, according to local newspaper Sun Sentinel citing the American Automobile Association (AAA).

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