Haiti is a “huge concern,” Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, said Friday. The expected rainfall was enough to produce “life-threatening conditions everywhere,” he said.
While a direct hit was not expected on the capital, Port-au-Prince, where about 400,000 earthquake survivors still live in camps made up of tents and scraps of wood and sheets, even normal heavy rains have been known to overwhelm rural villages and small towns as deforested hillsides dislodge and turn into torrents of mud.
The storm was expected to produce 8 to 12 inches of rain, with up to 20 inches at higher elevations.
In Port-au-Prince, Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe appealed for calm and advised Haitians to follow text messages sent out by the Haitian Red Cross with instructions on emergency preparedness and information about the risks of landslides.
The Red Cross sent trucks into camps perched on the hillsides of the capital to broadcast additional warnings over speakers, said France Hurtubise, a spokeswoman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Port-au-Prince.
The Haitian government began evacuating 2,000 women, children and elderly people from government-run camps in the capital that were at risk for mudslides, and other residents were asked to seek shelter with friends and relatives.
Many people were unwilling to leave their homes in the camps for fear of looting. “We cannot force them to leave,” Ms. Hurtubise said. “We can only make sure that they have the best protection.”