(New York Times) At least 42 people were dead and thousands were displaced after a weekend of heavy rainfall and widespread flooding in Haiti, the country’s disaster response agency said on Monday.
The heavy rain, which fell mostly on Saturday and Sunday, flooded more than 13,000 homes, displacing people across Haiti, according to the agency. It also said that 85 people were injured and 11 were missing after the floods.
As emergency workers rushed to provide food, drinking water and shelter for those who were affected, western portions of the Caribbean nation appeared to have suffered the brunt of the heavy rain.
In western portions of Haiti, more than 5,500 homes had been affected by rain and flooding, leaving more than 2,500 people displaced, the agency said in an update on Sunday. In the central region, it said that the agriculture sector had been affected by the rains as well.
Videos circulating on social media depicted dramatic scenes over the weekend as heavy flooding made some roadways look like flowing rivers with vehicles floating away.
Jean-Martin Bauer, the acting humanitarian coordinator for Haiti at the United Nations, said in a statement on Monday that numerous schools and other buildings were damaged, particularly in the western and northwestern regions of Haiti.
“Although this is not a cyclone nor a tropical storm, considerable damage was observed in the affected areas,” Mr. Bauer said.
At a news conference on Sunday, the acting prime minister, Ariel Henry, thanked volunteers with the disaster response agency for their work. He said on Twitter that federal agencies were working to meet the “demands of the day.”
The death toll was the highest in the port city of Léogâne, west of Port-au-Prince, the capital, where 19 people died, according to the authorities. As of Monday afternoon there were no deaths or injuries reported in Port-au-Prince, but about 4,500 homes there were affected by flooding, the authorities said.
Supermarkets opened in Port-au-Prince on Monday, but many businesses in the area were still closed. Thunderstorms brought rain to Port-au-Prince for hours on Saturday, at times flooding some streets, but overall the city did not experience the significant flooding that resulted in dozens of deaths west of the capital.
The widespread flooding was the latest blow to a country that has become all too familiar with natural disasters, most notably a magnitude-7 earthquake in 2010 that killed more than 200,000 people and destroyed much of Port-au-Prince.
Since then, Haiti has struggled to recover from the massive effects the earthquake had on the nation’s economy and infrastructure, while facing other natural disasters. In August 2021, more than 1,900 people were killed in Haiti after the country was struck by a magnitude-7.2 earthquake, which was followed by heavy rain from a tropical depression just two days later.
“I am particularly concerned by this situation at a time when the Haitian population is already highly vulnerable,” Mr. Bauer said on Monday, adding that the flooding came “at a time when the country is facing a major humanitarian crisis.”
Even before this weekend’s rain and flooding, nearly half of Haiti’s population, about 5.2 million people, were in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations.