By Jonathan M. Katz, AP
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — A brief rain storm flooded Haiti’s earthquake camps Wednesday, worrying residents hours after they were told to brace for a more-active-than-usual hurricane season.
A windy 20-minute downpour left a half foot of water inside makeshift tents on the sloping golf course of the Petionville Club, now a tarp-and-tent neighborhood of about 45,000 people.
People ran for cover in viscous mud wearing plastic shower caps and towels over their heads. Leaks sprung in emergency tarps given by aid groups after the Jan. 12 earthquake destroyed their homes.
“Of course I am worried about the rain. I have my mother here with high blood pressure and my family lives here,” said a 37-year-old woman who gave her name as Ammeni.
Earlier Wednesday, Haitian radio broadcast a forecast from Colorado State University researchers that the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season will be more active than usual because of warm sea temperatures.
That team said in a Wednesday statement that moderating El Nino conditions in the Pacific were likely to dissipate by summer, creating a likelihood of 15 named storms between June 1 and Nov. 30 – four of those major hurricanes.
That could cause havoc if any struck near the quake-ravaged capital, where officials are racing to improve shelter for 1.3 million people made homeless by the earthquake. Some will be relocated to camps outside the city; most others are being encouraged to return to their neighborhoods.
U.N. officials are still analyzing $9.9 billion in pledges from a March 31 donors’ conference for Haiti. It is not yet clear how much of that will go toward improving shelter.
Rains are expected to grow more intense as hurricane season approaches. In 2008, nearly 800 people were killed as Haiti was wracked by four named storms in the space of a month.