PORT-AU-PRINCE: As Canada and the United States are struggling with the impact of Hurricane Sandy, the storm-related death toll across the Caribbean was 65 as of press time, with 52 fatalities in Haiti.
While Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas took direct hits from the storm, the majority of deaths and injuries occurred in Haiti as the result of flooding and landslides. Massive crop losses and blocked roads were reported in the southern section of Haiti after more than 20 inches of rain pounded the region for more than three days last week. The nation’s central and northern regions were badly pelted as well.
Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency reports that the flooding has left 18,000 families homeless. “This is a disaster of major proportions,” said Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe “The whole south (region) is under water.”
Lamothe said the government would apply for emergency aid and the estimated cost of the damage was in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Pan American Health Organization has announced that 86 new suspected cases of cholera have come from tent camps in Port-au-Prince, where thousands of people are still living after the January 2010 earthquake.
In Jamaica, one person was killed and widespread power outages were caused by the storm which battered the eastern part of the country with high winds and heavy rain last Wednesday. The Category One storm’s landfall, five miles east of Kingston, was the first direct hit by the eye of a hurricane on the country since Hurricane Gilbert in 1988.
The nation’s emergency management office has responded to the storm by airlifting supplies to marooned communities in remote areas.
“The estimates coming out of 11 parishes indicate that we have suffered some JAM$700 million worth of damage and that does not include St. Thomas, Portland and parts of St. Catherine,” said Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Roger Clarke .“Those areas were hit hard.”
After striking Jamaica, the storm gained strength and hit eastern Cuba as a Category 2 hurricane last Thursday and killed 11 people while destroying or damaging tens of thousands of houses – 5,000 houses have partially collapsed while 30,000 others lost roofs.
Officials in the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba placed initial estimate of losses at over 2.1 billion pesos. They projected this figure would increase once the count of damages in the tourism, sugar, construction and other sectors has concluded.
The Bahamas also recorded a fatality as Timothy Fraser-Smith, the British chief executive officer of Deltec Bank & Trust, fell off his balcony to his death in the upscale Lyford Cay late Thursday while trying to repair a window shutter.
Wolf Seyfert, operations director at local airline, Western Air, said the domestic terminal of Grand Bahamas’ airport received “substantial damage” from Sandy’s battering storm surge and would need to be rebuilt.
In Puerto Rico, police said a man died Friday in the southern town of Juana Diaz, swept away in a river swollen by rain from the storm. Flooding forced at least 100 families in the southwestern part of the U.S. territory seek shelter.
Puerto Rico authorities evacuated more than 18,000 people after the storm destroyed several bridges and isolated at least 130 communities. Heavy rains and wind also damaged an estimated 3,500 homes.