Tropical Storm Noel Kills 91, Brushes Florida

Ramon Almanzar in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Associated Press
November 1, 2007

Rescuers rushed in helicopters and boats Thursday to reach people stranded by floods and mudslides from Tropical Storm Noel, which left at least 91 people dead in the Dominican Republic and neighboring Haiti.

(See pictures of tropical storm Noel and its aftermath.)

Hundreds of volunteers joined Dominican civil defense forces to help stranded residents. Many rescue teams left in boats loaned by private owners.

"We'll try to reach places where we don't know what's happened because we haven't had access since Monday," legislator Sergio Vargas of the Dominican Republic told the Associated Press. At least 52 communities were cut off because of widespread flooding and landslides.

Rescuers in Hispaniola—the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti—found a rising toll of death and damage from three days of rain. At least 56 people were dead in the Dominican Republic and 34 in Haiti, where the majority of bodies were found in the area of Port-au-Prince. One person was killed in Jamaica.

In the flooding overnight forced some people to evacuate their homes on Long Island, in the southeastern part of the archipelago, said Carl Smith, director of the National Emergency Management Agency. He said there were no reports of injury or death.

By Thursday morning, Noel had already dumped nearly 5 inches (13 centimeters) of rain on the capital, Nassau.

Florida Feels Effects

Rough surf warnings were in effect for much of South Florida. Waves were pounding beaches in the Miami area, and residents of a waterfront condominium in South Palm Beach were urged to evacuate after pounding surf destroyed a retaining wall damaged this month in another storm.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami on Thursday issued a tropical storm warning for the southeastern Florida coast from Ocean Reef to Deerfield Beach. A tropical storm watch was in effect from north of Deerfield Beach to Jupiter Inlet.

A warning means tropical storm conditions are expected within 24 hours, while a watch means such conditions are possible within that area.

Dominican President Leonel Fernandez declared a state of emergency for the next 30 days and asked for international help, especially rescue teams and helicopters. He ordered residents in 36 communities to evacuate because they were in potential flood zones.




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