SANTO DOMINGO – Almost 19,000 Dominicans remain displaced from their homes because of flooding from Hurricane Maria, although the rains diminished considerably on Wednesday, leading authorities to reduce the alert levels in different parts of the country.
Montecristi and Duarte are two of the provinces hardest hit by the rains and flooding, and a number of towns there remain flooded on Wednesday after rivers overflowed, causing the Onamet national weather service to maintain its flood alert, taking similar action for the provinces of Samana, Espaillat and Maria Trinidad Sanchez in the northeast.
The towns of Castañuela and Palo Verde, in Montecristi, remain flooded, although the waters have receded greatly since Tuesday after the rains slacked off, the Civil Defense director for the northwestern Dominican Republic, Pedro Torres, told EFE by telephone.
Of the 1,150 homes flooded in Palo Verde, now just 600 remain flooded, while in Castañuela the number of people in shelters dropped from 70 to 35, he said.
Although the flooding persists and is severely damaging crops in the affected areas, the rains have fallen off in recent hours, and so authorities have reduced the red alerts to yellow in three towns in Montecristi and another three in Duarte.
In addition, the number of provinces on the minimum green alert was reduced from 12 to 6.
Another municipality severely affected by the storm was Miches in the east, with the access roads to the region cut, thus rendering the area incommunicado by land, but now the zone is “getting back to normal” after the cleanup work by more than 1,000 men, according to the Public Works Ministry.
The number of displaced people staying with friends and relatives dropped in recent hours from 24,384 to 18,392, and the number of people in shelters dropped from 1,819 to 555, according to a report released Wednesday by the COE emergency operations center.
Nationwide, 188 homes were destroyed and 861 were damaged, while 8,857 were flooded, a large number of them in the northeast and northwest because of the overflowing of the Yuna and Yaque del Norte rivers, two of the country’s main watercourses.
The COE says that 26 communities remain cut off due to the hurricane and 21 aqueducts were put out of service, thus leaving some 350,000 people without potable water.
The heavy rains also damaged 14 bridges and five highways.
Maria killed two people in the Dominican Republic – one in Espaillat and the other in La Altagracia – while on Monday the bodies of two Haitians who had been swept away by the Yaque del Norte River were recovered in Montecristi, Civil Defense authorities said.