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Alpha leaves 8 dead in Haiti before weakening

Alpha, the Atlantic season’s 22nd named storm, left at least eight people dead and 23 missing in Haiti before being downgraded to a tropical depression, officials said Monday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Alpha, the Atlantic season’s record-breaking 22nd named storm, left at least eight people dead and 23 missing in Haiti before moving north into the Atlantic Ocean and weakening into a tropical depression, authorities said Monday.

At least three people also were missing in the neighboring Dominican Republic as mudslides and overflowing rivers flooded streets and destroyed homes, according to officials in both countries.

Alpha passed over the two nations that share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola and heavy rains on ground already saturated from other recent storms, including Hurricane Wilma — which was blamed for 12 deaths in Haiti.

Alpha rumbled ashore Saturday as a tropical storm with maximum winds of 50 mph near the southern Dominican town of Barahona and doused the region with showers.

It was later downgraded to a tropical depression after passing over the mountainous zone near the Dominican border with Haiti. The system moved into the open Atlantic after passing over the southeastern Bahamas. It posed no threat to the United States and was expected to dissipate.

Emergency authorities were still assessing the damage from Alpha and the death toll could rise, Maria Alta Jean Baptiste, the head of Haiti’s civil protection agency, told reporters.

The deaths from Alpha included three people who drowned in flooding in the village of Anse Rouge in northern Haiti and a fourth in the northeastern town of Hinche, Jean Baptiste said.

In the south, two people were swept away to their deaths after a river broke its banks in rural Grande Anse, Jean Baptiste said. Two people died after being electrocuted during flooding, one in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Carrefour and the other in the southern town of Jacmel.

Agony in Carrefour
Residents of Carrefour said they called authorities for help but no one came.

“I’ve lost everything,” said a sobbing Rolande Bruno as she pointed to the lone standing wall from her simple concrete home, which was dangling over a ravine. “No one had warned us of anything, but we’re not stupid. When the water started rising fast, we left for safety.”

Floods and mudslides damaged or destroyed at least 400 homes around the country, leaving hundreds stranded in shelters, said Abel Nazaire of Haiti’s Risk and Disaster Management agency.

Twenty-three people have been reported missing since the storm in Haiti, including 19 who were swept away by floodwaters in the town of Leogane, west of the capital.

“We are conducting searches right now, and we’re extremely worried,” Leogane Mayor Taylor Rigaud said in a telephone interview. He said dozens of families were in shelters after their homes were inundated.

In the Dominican Republic, authorities searched Monday for two fishermen who went missing at sea during the storm, said Jose Luis German, spokesman for the country’s emergency operations committee.

Officials were also searching for a 14-year-old boy who was swept away by floodwaters in the northern town of Guaricanos, German said.

The Atlantic storm season officially ends Nov. 30.