Heavy rain in Haiti leads to flash flooding, floods and landslides in a country already facing a humanitarian crisis
Heavy rain over the weekend has flooded more than 13,600 homes in Haiti, with at least 42 people dead and 85 injured, according to the country’s Civil Protection Agency. More than 13,300 people have been displaced, and at least 11 others were declared missing.
Aid organisations and emergency response teams were mobilised to support those affected, with people forced out of their homes in at least half of the country’s 10 departments: Nippes, Ouest, Sud-Est, Nord-Ouest and Centre.
‘The residents are desperate. They have lost everything. The waters have ravaged their fields, washed away their livestock,’ said Leogane Mayor Ernson Henry.
The UN food assistance agency, The World Food Programme, will start to provide hot meals to displaced people and mobilise resources to support up to 15,000 people with dry food and rations.
‘My government, in concert with national and international institutions, is taking urgent measures in order to meet the demands of the hour,’ Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry tweeted.
What caused the floods?
Due to a low-pressure system, intense rainfall in the country earlier this week caused several rivers to overflow, leading to flash floods, rockslides, landslides and flooding.
By 4 June, the pressure system had calmed, but the Haiti Meteorological Unit warned of the chance of another low-pressure system arriving over the next week. If more heavy rainfall occurs, the waterlogged soil will no longer be able to prevent further landslides or flooding, potentially leading to a higher provisional death toll.
June marked the start of the hurricane season in Haiti, but the weather was not a hurricane, storm or tropical downpour.
Haiti’s humanitarian crisis
According to the UN, almost half of Haiti’s population required humanitarian assistance before the floods – double the figure five years ago.
‘I am particularly concerned by this situation at a time when the Haitian population is already highly vulnerable,’ Jean-Martin Bauer, the acting humanitarian coordinator for Haiti at the United Nations, said.