Tropical Storm Isaac lashes Haiti; Florida under hurricane warning
By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:52 AM EDT, Sat August 25, 2012
- Hurricane warning is issued for the west coast of Florida, from Bonita
- Warnings are also in effect for the Florida Keys and Florida Bay,
- Tropical Storm Isaac is passing over Haiti and moving toward Cuba,
- Power is knocked out to one Port-au-Prince hospital, an official says
Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- Tropical Storm Isaac lashed Haiti early
Saturday, bringing gale-force winds and potential flooding to a nation
where hundreds of thousands still live in tent cities following a 2010
Strong winds and high surf pounded Haiti's coastline as the storm passed
over the nation. Forecasters issued a hurricane warning for portions of
the west coast of Florida and the Florida Keys.
By early Saturday morning, Isaac -- with maximum sustained winds of 60
mph -- was 150 southeast of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and moving at 14 mph,
according to the Miami-based National Hurricane Center. The storm lost
power as it passed over Haiti, though it was expected to gain strength
as it moved back over open water.
Rainfall accumulations of 8 to 12 inches are expected, with up to 20
inches possible in portions of Hispaniola -- the island shared by Haiti
and the Dominican Republic.
Cuba issued a tropical storm warning for its eastern provinces, and the
Bahamian government put Andros Island under a hurricane watch, the
National Hurricane Center said.
A hurricane watch was issued early Saturday for Florida's east coast,
from Golden Beach south, while a hurricane warning was issued for the
Florida Keys, the west coast of Florida, from Bonita Beach south, and
the Floriday Bay, according to the hurricane center.
A watch means hurricane conditions are possible, and a warning means
that hurricane conditions are expected.
The earliest Isaac could build to hurricane strength would be Sunday
when it makes its way into the Gulf of Mexico, forecasters said.
Isaac making Haiti landfall
Forecasters believe Isaac may pose a risk to Tampa, Florida, where the
Republican National Convention is due to kick off Monday.
Haiti: Racing to relocate people
For the moment, though, those believed to be at greatest risk from
Isaac's onslaught are some of the roughly 300,000 Haitians still living
in temporary homes -- primarily tents -- following the January 2010
earthquake that killed more than 200,000. At the height of the disaster,
it forced more than 500,000 people into tent cities.
There were no reports of damage overnight, though that may change in the
Sean Penn talks about risk for Haiti
Haitian President Michel Martelly said he is visiting camps to encourage
people to go to shelters, but acknowledged not everyone would be able
Tropical storm Isaac nears Haiti
"Those who are very vulnerable, they are moved out of these camps. And
the ones who are remaining behind are those who are stronger to fight
this situation," he said Friday.
Power is out at the Bernard Mevs Hospital in Port-au-Prince, which has
been operating on a generator since just before midnight, said Scott
Gillenwater of the Project Medishare, which provides services at the
Outside, strong winds and rain pounded the capital city.
Tampa RNC storm scenario
"I can't imagine tents being able to last through this," he said.
Haiti in hurricane danger
Staff at Bernard Meds spent three days preparing for the storm's arrival.
"We anticipate many crush injuries from mudslides to come into the
trauma center," Gillenwater said.
Some residents living in one tent community said they were staying put
with their belongings and would ride out the storm.
The front of the storm brought heavy rain and strong winds to Jacmel on
Haiti's coast early Saturday.
Residents in Jacmel were worried Isaac would bring a repeat of the
flooding the town experienced during a storm several years ago.
"I'm very worried about the water coming off the mountains and that the
city fills up like a sink," said Hugues Paul, the mayor.
Large amounts of rainfall will cause mudslides and runoff that can block
roads, or worse.
"We watch those storms every single time they come near because Haiti is
so vulnerable," said Amy Parodi, a spokeswoman for the Christian
humanitarian organization World Vision.
Elsewhere, storm preparations were under way.
Officials in Monroe County, in far south Florida, said three shelters
would open Saturday for people who did not want to ride out the storm in
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said it will be up to organizers of the
Republican National Convention to decide the fate of the event.
While Isaac's path remains uncertain, the latest tracking information
shows it crossing near the western Florida Keys and staying well west of
Tampa, and not reaching hurricane strength until sometime Sunday or Monday.
A five-day projection shows Isaac making landfall near Pensacola,
Florida, by early Wednesday.
Even though most of the state may catch a break, officials are taking
the threat seriously.
"It has been a fortunate seven years since Wilma hit Florida," National
Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb said, referring to the last
hurricane to make landfall in the state. "The luck is going to run out
at some point."
CNN's Karen Smith, Gary Tuchman, Martin Savidge and Danielle Dellorto
contributed to this report.