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Hurricane Tomas slams down on Haiti; live aid tracking attempts to help

By Melissa Bell
The collapsed roof of the national palace in Haiti can be seen in the distance as a man walks in the rain in Port-au-Prince. (Eduardo Munoz/Reuters)

First came the earthquake, then the cholera outbreak and now the hurricane. Haiti is preparing for its third national emergency this year as Hurricane Tomas bears down on the Caribbean island.

Aid agencies and tracking web sites are following the developments of the hurricane to monitor how best to help the situation., a crisis management portal that tracks calls for help through text messages, tweets and e-mail, has already beenreceiving calls for help to find lodging.

The web site has partnered with Usahidi, the online tool that helped crowd-source assistance during the earthquake. Residents can text pleas of help to 177 and rescue organizations, such as Red Cross International, to focus their help efforts.

(Check out a video on how Usahidi helped aid earthquake relief..)

The Weather Channel's Jim Cantore is in Haiti and just tweeted that the Momence River is already overflowing the streets are flooding, but that clouds are clearing over Port-Au-Prince.

Authorities are bracing for more devastation to visit the island. Despite urging the hundreds of thousands of Haitians to abandon the tent cities they have been residing in since the earthquakes, authorities are having trouble convincing most of the 1.3 million residents to leave their temporary housing. Residents say there is nowhere else to go and they are fearful of losing the few possessions they still own. Some fear losing the tents themselves. Many of the emergency cities were under the threat of forcible closing before the hurricane.

The eye of the storm is still projected to pass to the west of the island, but it is traveling northeast at 10 miles per hour with 85-mph wind. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami predicted dangerous storm surges along the coast and possible flash floods and mudslides in mountainous areas. The rain could also flood sanitation installations, exacerbating the cholera epidemic.

Already one person has been reported killed, drowned while crossing a swollen river. Tomas reportedly killed 14 people in St. Lucia.

People wade through a flooded street during the passing of Hurricane Tomas in Leogane, Haiti. (Ramon Espinosa/AP)
Men help push a stalled SUV throuh a flooded street in Leoganne, a town an hour out of Port au Prince Haiti. (Logan Abassi/Minustah via Getty Images)

By Melissa Bell  | November 5, 2010; 9:34 AM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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