As of the 11 pm bulletin from the National Hurricane Center, Tropical Storm Tomas is expected to strengthen overnight into a hurricane. Between now and 8 pm on Friday, the storm is expected to move across the western most portion of the island of Hispaniola, and move through the Windward Passage into the Atlantic Ocean.
A strong storm surge is expected along the Haitian coast, and rainfall amounts may reach as high as fifteen inches. The NHC warns of life threatening flash floods and landslides.
The amphibious ship USS Iwo Jima has been ordered to respond to Haiti from its humanitarian mission in Suriname. It carries over 1,600 military and civilian personnel which were participating the the annual Continuing Promise mission in and around the Carribbean. Iwo Jima had been in Haitian waters July 24 to August 3, conducting assistance operations in the northern city of Port-au-Paix. The ship is expected to be on station late Thursday or early Friday.
The cholera epidemic in Haiti continues as Tomas bears down on the earthquake ravaged nation. The latest United Nations report has 442 deaths and 6.742 hospitalizations from the illness.
The government of Haiti and the various agencies working in the earthquake relief effort are attempting to evacuate many of the over 1,300 refugee camps which are at risk from flooding. Over 1.3 million Haitians remain in the camps with many living under tarps or tents. Flooding will also increase the risk of cholera due to the spread of contaminated sewage by the flood waters.
The New York Times reports that the residents at one camp refused to evacuate. They feared the loss of their belongings, and that the camp was being given to others. After extensive explanations, several hundred agreed to flee to safer ground.
The BBC reports similar issues at the Petionville camp which was originally established by the U.S. paratroopers in January. Many have no where to go and are placing their trust in God.