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Haiti spared the worst of Tomas

For residents of Haiti, still struggling to recover from last January's destructive earthquake and more recently trying to cope with an outbreak of cholera, the country dodged a bullet.

By Staff writer / November 6, 2010

People walk in a flooded street after the passing of Hurricane Tomas in the neighborhood of Cite Soleil in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Saturday Nov. 6, 2010.

Ramon Espinosa/AP

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Tropical storm Tomas is heading into the central Atlantic Ocean after splitting the uprights – the 50-mile -wide Windward Passage between Haiti and Cuba – as a category 1 hurricane Friday.

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After inflicting an estimated $185 million in damage on the island of St. Lucia in the Lesser Antilles last weekend, resulting in 14 deaths, Tomas's effect on Cuba, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic has been more restrained.

For residents of Haiti, still struggling to recover from last January's destructive earthquake and more recently trying to cope with an outbreak of cholera, the country dodged a bullet. So far, seven fatalities have been attributed to Tomas so far, mostly around the town of Leogane, southwest of the capital of Port-au-Prince. The city lies in a region where flooding and storm surge were said to be particularly heavy.

IN PICTURES: Tropical storm Tomas

There, initial reports indicate the storm destroyed 48 homes, partially damaged as many as 2,800, and slightly damaged another 150. But vast numbers of people in tent cities to the east have largely been spared, if initial reports hold up.

In Cuba, civil-defense officials said their country sustained little damage and no fatalities, according to the Cuban News Agency.

In Jamaica, officials were fending off questions about whether the government had over-prepared in the face of tropical-storm warnings.

"There can be no over-planning or over-reaction when there is a probable threat of a disaster," government information minister Daryl Vaz told reporters after Tomas had passed. "This was probably the best prepared we have been in terms of being proactive and doing everything we needed to do" to protect Jamaicans.

Meanwhile, across Haiti's border with the Dominican Republic, floods from the storm destroyed an estimated 1,700 homes and forced at least 8,500 people to evacuate. So far, no fatalities have been reported.

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