Haitian disaster and weather experts are continuing to keep an eye on once-powerful storm Danny as it continues to weaken, warning those living in at-risk areas to remain vigilant.
“Our biggest vulnerabilities as you know with rainfall are flooding, flash floods and landslides,” said Ronald Semelfort, Haiti’s chief meteorologist. “We have to cease counting bodies.”
Danny, which had reached Category 3 hurricane status, was continuing to lose strength with winds down to 30 mph Monday morning. Hispanola, Puerto Rico and the U.S. and British Virgin Islands are expected to receive between two to four inches of rainfall through Tuesday with Cuba also likely to see some rain from Danny.
Semelfort said the weather system will bring much-needed rain to a drought-stricken Haiti in the next 24 to 48 hours, raising concerns about whether too much rain could also trigger flooding.
“It could still pose a threat to all of the departments,” he said. “They could all receive a lot of rains that trigger flooding and landslides. We are asking for the mobilization of all of the departments.”
As a result of the threat, the Civil Protection Office has launched radio ads, asking those who live in areas at risk for flash floods and landslides to remain aware of the pending weather.
Marie-Alta Jean-Baptiste, the head of the Civil Protection Office, said while officials are continuing to keep an eye on Danny as it weakens, they are also watching two others systems that the National Hurricane Center is tracking. Monday afternoon, forecasters predicted one system, about 975 miles east of the Lesser Antilles, is likely to become a tropical depression in the next day as it moves west at about 20 mph.
The two systems are typical of tropical waves rolling off Africa as the Atlantic season moves into peak months from mid-August to late October and a good reminder to stay alert, hurricane center spokesman and meteorologist Dennis Feltgen said.
“These are the seedlings of possible tropical cyclone development down the road,” he said. “They don’t all develop but some of them do, as we saw with Danny. Fortunately, for everybody, Danny ran into a very hostile atmospheric environment.”
On Sunday the Civil Protection Office sent disaster relief supplies to the northwest department, which includes the city of Port-de-Paix and the island of Ile de la Tortue. On Monday, there were plans to also send supplies to the Central Plateau and the towns of Ouanaminthe in the northeast and Fonds-Verrettes in the west.
Weather concerns come as Haiti enters day four of CARIFESTA, a 10-day cultural showcase featuring artists and food from around the Caribbean as well as the United States, Canada and Mexico. Rains cut short the outdoor, opening day ceremony on Friday. On Sunday night, a heavy downpour not associated with Danny forced the cancellation of performances.
Not letting the weather get them down, however, a 43-member Junkanoo band from the Bahamas, featuring some of the country’s best musicians, paraded through the lobby of the Marriott hotel near downtown Port-au-Prince, blowing horns and beating drums to a festive beat.
The surprise performance had everyone from Bahamas Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell to Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretary General Irwin LaRocque and Assistant Secretary General Colin Granderson dancing in the aisles.
“Haiti has just experienced Bahamian culture through its Junkanoo music, dance and its people, which cannot only be the basis of its friendship, but will create a bond of two cultures coming together in respect, admiration and unity,” Andy Ingraham, a South Florida business and hotel consultant attending the activities with the Bahamas delegation, said afterward.
Miami Herald staff writer Jenny Staletovich contributed to this report.