Officials in Haiti issued alert on Monday, September 19, for Hurricane Maria. As of O8:00 (local time) the storm was located approximately 240 km (150 mi) southeast of St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands, moving west-northwest at 17km/h (10 mph). The storm is forecast to pass to the northeast of Haiti on Thursday, September 21, and Friday, September 22. Officials in Haiti are expecting heavy rain in the coming days due to Hurricane Maria. Flooding triggered by heavy rain on Friday, September 15, and Saturday, September 16, has already caused significant damage in the Artibonite, Centre, Nord, and Nord-Ouest regions.
Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm, continues to move toward the US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Various Caribbean islands are still recovering from devastation brought by Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm that struck earlier this month. Although Haiti was not hit directly by Hurricane Irma, widespread flooding and heavy rains were reported along the northern coastline.
Additionally, parts of southern Haiti – especially the Sud, Nippes, and Grand'Anse departments – are still recovering from Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 hurricane that hit the country in October 2016. A total of 370,000 homes were damaged or destroyed by the storm, including 285,000 in rural areas, and hundreds of people were killed. Additional flooding between April 23 and May 2 of this year killed at least ten more people across Haiti. Significant social unrest broke out following Hurricane Matthew due to the government’s perceived poor response to the disaster.
Individuals present in Haiti are advised to follow all instructions issued by the local authorities, to keep abreast of weather forecasts and alerts, and to avoid coastal and mountainous areas (risk of flooding and landslides).
In the event of flooding, remember that driving or walking through running water can be dangerous – 15 cm (6 in) of running water is enough to knock over an adult – and that floodwater may contain wastewater or chemical products; all items having come into contact with the water should be disinfected and all foodstuffs discarded.