Haiti appeared to have escaped the worst of Hurricane Irma as it barreled across its northern coastline Thursday, although experts cautioned that the vulnerable nation remains in a danger zone.
The country’s head of Civil Protection, Dr Jerry Chandler was still apprehensive, however.
Too early to say we’re safe
“It’s still too early to say we’re safe. We are still in the dangerous area,” Chandler said. “We are getting reports [but] no major incidents thus far. But we are still looking out.”
The storm blew off rooftops, flooded parts of Ouanaminthe in northeast Haiti and caused at least one national road connecting the north and center pars of the country to be impassable, but early reports revealed that Irma did not cause the kind of damage and flooding many had feared.
“The water is rising in some places, but we don’t yet have flooding,” Cap-Haitien Mayor Yvrose Pierre said late Thursday as the city continued to experience rain and strong wind gusts on and off throughout the day.
Prime Minister Jack Guy Lafontant announced he had formed a commission to “rapidly” report on the storm within the next 24 to 48 hours. Lafontant made the announcement during an evening press conference at his official residence as cabinet members sought to blunt criticism that they were not prepared for the potentially catastrophic weather event.
Earlier in the day as the storm approached Haiti, Pierre and several other mayors said they were forced to dip into their meager coffers to stock shelters. They contradicted central government officials who reported having sent container-loads of food, and bulldozers and other earth-moving equipment to respond to blocked roads in the five regions most likely to feel the brunt of Irma.