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Flooding in wake of storm raises toll

November 01, 2007|From the Associated Press

PIEDRA BLANCA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC — The death toll from Tropical Storm Noel rose to 81 on Wednesday as rescuers made their way into communities cut off by flooding in the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Rain was still falling on the island of Hispaniola, shared by the two nations, even though the storm hit two days ago and was slowly moving away from the north coast of Cuba, which appeared to have escaped major damage, and toward the Bahamas, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. A tropical storm watch was issued for parts of Florida.

At least 56 people were dead in the Dominican Republic, 24 in Haiti and one in Jamaica.

In Haiti, floods rushed through houses in the capital's Cite Soleil slum, carrying away a 3-year-old boy as relatives frantically shouted for help. Two people were killed in Petionville when their house collapsed in a mudslide, and at least three died in Jacmel, where officials said 150 were trapped on rooftops.

In the Dominican Republic, a river overflowed its banks Monday night and swept through this hamlet. Charo Vidal said she climbed a tree and watched her neighbor struggle to do the same, clutching infant twins while water swept away an older daughter.

About 200 homes were destroyed in nearby Bonao, an aid official said. Dominican President Leonel Fernandez declared a state of emergency and asked for international help.

At least 58,300 Dominicans fled their homes, said Luis Antonio Luna, head of the Emergencies Commission.

At least seven people died in Piedra Blanca, officials said.

Sagrario Diaz, 42, couldn't hold on to his son in the surging water. A neighbor, Lucia Araujo, said she heard the boy scream: "Daddy, I don't want to drown! Help me, I don't want to drown!"

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