Flooding still threat for Haiti after Emily wanes

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti Click here to track the storm and get the latest information

Some people headed to shelters in the Artibonite valley although most decided to stay in their homes in the region's isolated villages.

Civil protection authorities could not estimate the danger posed by flooding in the countryside late Thursday, but government worker Max Obed Desir said several villages were threatened. The Artibonite is particularly prone to flooding because the surrounding mountains have been almost completely deforested by people clearing trees for farming and to make charcoal.

At least 50 homes were in danger of being flooded in the rice-farming village of L'Estere, where Desir tried Thursday to persuade people to leave their small cinderblock and wooden homes. Nearby, a dozen homes were inundated with chocolate-brown water.

Desir said most refused because they wanted to protect their belongings in the remote region, where heavy rain already had been falling for weeks and the arrival of Emily worsened the situation.

"The hardest part of my job is telling people and telling people and telling people they have to leave, and they don't leave," Desir said as he took photos of the endangered houses and tallied the numbers in a log book.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said all hurricane watches and warnings had been canceled by Thursday afternoon but rains still fell over the island of Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Emily dropped more than 5 inches (140 millimeters) around the southwestern Dominican city of Barahona, prompting the government to order the evacuation of more than 5,000 people.

No deaths had been reported.

In the capital, which has most of those left homeless by the earthquake, government officials evacuated a few families from a camp for quake victims to a school, said Jean-Joseph Edgard, an administrator in Haiti's Civil Protection Department. There were also voluntary evacuations in the Delmas section of Port-au-Prince.

About a hundred people were staying in temporary shelters in the southern beach town of Jacmel and 25 inmates from a jail in the coastal town of Mirogoane were taken to a nearby police station, said Emmanuelle Schneider, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs.

Schneider said the U.N. mission also sent heavy equipment to the Central Plateau to help repair a road cut by flooding.

In L'Estere, Associated Press journalists accompanied Desir as he knocked on doors to record the damage and warn people to leave their homes.

Most refused, but Elene Dorceli joined several dozen people who opted to relocate, moving to a cluster of camping tents a few blocks away.

The 50-year-old mother of five had returned to her home made out of sticks and dirt Wednesday night after a family funeral took her away for five days. Despite the government's calls and text messages alerting Haitians to the threat of Emily, Dorceli hadn't heard of the approaching storm or threat of flooding until she came back.

"I was in shock," Dorceli said as she stood in a soup of mud at the entrance to her home, a crude dwelling the size of a one-car garage. The river outside her door was rushing by and she didn't want to take any chances.

She tugged at Desir's white polo shirt. She wanted to go. "You can't put pressure on the locals," Desir said. "You just have to talk to them. Either they listen or they don't."

Twenty minutes later, heavy rain began to fall.

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