While still measuring the human and material losses of the earthquake on Saturday (14), Haiti is preparing to receive, at the beginning of the week, the tropical storm Grace, common at this time of the year, but with the aggravating potential for the country. Caribbean. .
Formed in the Atlantic, the violent storm can reach winds of 100 to 120 km / h and its core should pass over Haitian territory on Monday or Tuesday, according to weather forecasts.
Haiti’s national civil protection agency announced that the storm was already approaching the Antilles archipelago on Saturday and urged the population to heed the authorities’ recommendations. The neighboring Dominican Republic has issued a warning for the southern and northern coasts, where heavy rains, winds, flooding and landslides are expected.
According to Leonardo Calvetti, head of the Meteorological Forecasting and Research Center at the Federal University of Pelotas (Ufpel), the storm is worrying not because of its size, but because of the high vulnerability that Haiti experiences. “With many structures on the verge of collapse and hospitals overcrowded due to the earthquake, it is difficult to deal with winds of this intensity.”
Victim rescue efforts are also likely to get more complicated with Storm Grace. According to the most up-to-date toll, 1,297 people died and 5,700 were injured in the magnitude 7.2 earthquake – larger than the magnitude 7 earthquake of 2010.
The southwestern part of the island of Hispaniola was the most affected, including the Haitian departments of South, Nippes, Grand-Anse and North-West.
A thunderstorm of Grace’s proportions, explains Calvetti, from Ufpel, is similar to summer thunderstorms in São Paulo, which are frequent at the start of the year and which usually cause falling trees, blackouts, landslides. terrain and mobility issues. As it stands, it is possible to observe the consequences, but the precariousness of infrastructure in Haiti, weakened by the earthquake, worsens the situation.
“If it was in another region, it wouldn’t be a problem. A similar dimension would only be given if it were a hurricane, but given Haiti’s vulnerability, the situation will be sad, ”explains the meteorologist.
Saturday’s earthquake could increase the risk of landslides caused by the tropical storm, Robbie Berg of the U.S. National Hurricane Center told The New York Times. “It is possible that parts of the ground have been displaced, which would facilitate landslides.”
The storm bypassed Puerto Rico on Sunday and continued in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. It then heads to the island of Cuba before heading north on the east coast of the United States.
Grace is the seventh storm of the Atlantic hurricane season this year and comes in the wake of Storm Fred, which during the week passed through the Dominican Republic – where it left thousands without electricity or water current – Cuba and Florida (United States).