On the eve of the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which brought widespread devastation after the colossal failure of the system built to protect the city, New Orleans on Tuesday night once again found itself facing the impending arrival of a huge and deadly storm.
Isaac was a Category 1 hurricane with sustained winds of 80 miles per hour when it made landfall at 6:45 p.m. local time just southwest of the mouth of the Mississippi River, about 95 miles from New Orleans, and then wobbled westward and back out over water. Around 11 p.m., it was about 75 miles southeast of New Orleans with the same sustained winds.
Prior to Isaac touching down on the American coast, it was a Tropical Storm which devastated the island of Hispaniola.
Haitians began to dig themselves out of the mud on Sunday, one day after Tropical Storm Isaac doused the Caribbean nation and killed eight people here and another two in neighboring Dominican Republic.
With a reported total of 10 deaths for the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by the two countries, the scale of devastation was less than many people had feared.
But the capital and countryside of disaster-prone Haiti did suffer sporadic flooding, fallen poles and scores of toppled tents that housed people who lost their homes in the massive 2010 earthquake.
Joseph Edgard Celestin of Haiti’s Civil Protection Office offered few details on the storm-related deaths, but said one man was swept away as he tried to cross a river in a village in the country’s north.
Haiti’s Civil Protection Office said in a separate report that a 51-year-old woman was killed in the southern coastal town of Marigot after a tree fell on her home. A 10-year-old girl was killed in the village of Thomazeau after a wall collapsed on her.
In neighboring Dominican Republic, police reported that two men were swept away by flooded rivers that burst their banks. One victim was identified as Pedro Peralta, a former mayor in Villa Altagracia, a town northwest of the capital of Santo Domingo. His body was recovered Sunday by rescuers on the banks of the Haina River.
Another male victim, whose identity was not disclosed, was swept away by the Yaguaza River, Dominican police said.
Across Haiti, the number of people evacuated due to flooding rose over the weekend. More than 14,000 people had left their homes and another 13,500 people were living in temporary shelters until Saturday night, the Civil Protection Office reported. Some 8,400 evacuees were in the country’s western department, the most populous and where the capital of Port-au-Prince is located.
The World Food Program had distributed two days of food to 8,300 of the people who had left their houses for 18 camps.
The Haitian government reported that a dozen houses were destroyed and another 269 damaged.