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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hanna starts moving; added to misery in Haiti

After dancing around in the Caribbean for a few days, tropical Storm Hanna will finally begin her trek to the north later today. Hanna is expected to remain a tropical storm for the next 24 hours or so as she crosses over the Bahamas, but this is already a deady storm. At least 21 people were killed by heavy rain and flooding in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

(CBS/ AP) Haitian families scrambled onto rooftops and screamed for help Tuesday in a city flooded by Tropical Storm Hanna, as U.N. peacekeepers and rescue convoys tried in vain to reach them. By Tuesday night, Hanna claimed 21 lives in Haiti, including 12 dead in the state containing the cutoff city of Gonaives, said Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste of the country's civil protection office
in Port-au-Prince, the capital.

Iris Norsil, 20, managed to flee Gonaives on Haiti's western shore and told The Associated Press that people there were isolated by muddy floodwaters as evening fell, seeking refuge on rooftops as wind gusts drove horizontal sheets of rain. "They are screaming for help," Norsil said as a U.N. aid convoy tried unsuccessfully to drive into Gonaives, now surrounded by a virtual lake of floodwaters.

A team of AP journalists accompanied the convoy. Another convoy carrying Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis had to abandon efforts at getting into Gonaives when one of the cars was nearly swept away, said Julian Frantz, a Haitian police officer who was providing security for the group.

Floodwaters rose rapidly outside Gonaives, where Norsil and scores of other residents who abandoned the low-lying city shivered violently in soaked clothing, nervously eying the rushing, debris-clogged waters. "The situation is as bad as it can be," said Vadre Louis, a U.N. official in Gonaives. "The wind is ripping up trees. Houses are flooded with water. Cars can't drive on the street. You can't rescue anyone, wherever they may be."



Storm tracks seem to take Hanna into the South Carolina coast by the weekend. The questionable part is whether she will bump into Florida for a short while first. Either way, landfall near Savannah does not appear likely at this time.





As Hanna moves to the northwest, she is expected to increase in intensity and may reach Cat 2 status before coming ashore.

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