Tropical Storm Chantal threatens Dominican Republic, Haiti
Tropical Storm Chantal barreled towards the Dominican Republic and Haiti Wednesday. Officials warned of possible landslides and heavy flooding from Tropical Storm Chantal.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Tropical Storm Chantal roared south of Puerto Rico early Wednesday on a path that will see it pass over the Dominican Republic and Haiti, where authorities warned of possible landslides and heavy flooding.Skip to next paragraph
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Chantal was becoming disorganized and a hurricane watch was discontinued for the Dominican Republic's southern coast, according to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. However, atropical storm warning was in effect for the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos, and the southeastern Bahamas.
Officials in the Dominican Republic, where Chantal was expected to make landfall Wednesday afternoon, urged those living in low-lying areas to evacuate, but few paid heed.
"We're sure nothing is going to happen," said Geovanny Batista, leader of an impoverished community in the capital of Santo Domingo built largely of wood, cardboard and zinc.
"We can't just go and leave behind our belongings," he said. "Thieves will come and take them."
Officials in Haiti, which is forecast to feel the brunt of ChantalWednesday evening, encountered similar resistance despite repeated radio warnings.
Street vendor Marc St. Juste said he was unaware a storm was coming, but upon learning the news, he decided to remain outside a bit, if only to sell a few more snow cones in downtown Port-au-Prince, Haiti's congested capital.
"I'm going to go home as soon as possible," St. Juste said as he pushed his rickety wooden cart topped with frozen ice and colorful syrups. "But I'm still going to stay out to make as many sales as possible."
Both Haiti and the Dominican Republic are vulnerable to flooding and landslides from storms, but widespread deforestation and ramshackle housing in Haiti mean even moderate rains pose a significant threat.
Haiti is already in the middle of its rainy season, with 279,000 people still living in grim settlements that popped up in the capital and elsewhere after the devastating 2010 earthquake.