Skip to main content

Emily diminishes over mountains, heavy rains still possible

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • NEW: All watches and warnings for the storm are canceled
  • NEW: Heavy rains still pose a threat to citizens of Haiti
  • Tropical Storm Emily degenerated into a low pressure system
  • Nearly 12,000 U.N. troops and police are on standby in Haiti

(CNN) -- What was once Tropical Storm Emily has diminished into a low pressure system, but heavy rain and potential flooding still threaten hundreds of thousands of Haitians living in temporary quarters.

The storm degenerated as it hit the mountains of Hispaniola Thursday afternoon, the National Hurricane Center said. All storm warnings have been canceled as a result.

"The circulation was disrupted enough by the mountains so now it's just an average tropical wave," said CNN Senior Meteorologist Dave Hennen. "Heavy rain and possible flooding is going to continue for the Dominican Republic and Haiti and there will be some rain and gusty wind through the Bahamas."

The remnants of Emily could still dump 6 to12 inches of rain on the island of Hispaniola Thursday, with isolated amounts up to 20 inches, and there could be strong wind gusts as well, the National Hurricane Center said. In Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, nearly 12,000 United Nations peacekeepers waited on emergency standby.

Haiti continues to recover from the devastating earthquake that rocked the island in 2010. A cholera outbreak that was magnified by Hurricane Tomas last November, killed hundreds and infected nearly 2,000 people, the U.N. said. Many are worried flooding from heavy rains could renew the spread of the disease.

The streets in Port-au-Prince were emptier than normal Thursday, after the government declared the day a holiday in advance of the storm.

"We have ... stocks, food, medical kits, cholera kits, tents, tarpaulins both here in Port-au-Prince and in departments to prepare for the storm," said Kevin Kennedy with the United Nations earlier in the day. "Some 360 evacuation sites have been identified just here in Port-au-Prince metropolitan area, and we can host up to 50,000 people for two days."

Additional supplies can be flown in from Panama if needed, he said.

About 100 people were relocated into shelters in the southeast of Haiti, where the worst of the storm had been expected, according to Emmanuelle Schneider, spokeswoman for the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Only eight families had been evacuated in Port-au-Prince, she said, and others living in tents and tarps don't want to leave their temporary homes.

The agency has more than 10,000 tents and tarpaulins in case the storm wrecks the temporary shelters, she said.

The government issued an alert advising residents that the storm's heavy rains could produce dangerous flooding and mudslides.

CNN's Ed Payne, Jessica Gable and journalist Yvetot Gouin contributed to this report.