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GIEWS Update-detail
FAO/GIEWS Global Watch

31 October 2007

Dominican Republic: Tropical Storm Noel causes severe losses to food and cash crops



Strong winds and torrential rain on October 29associated with Tropical Storm Noel, the 14th named storm of the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season in the Caribbean, resulted in major flooding and mudslides in the Hispaniola Island (Dominican Republic and Haiti). Heavy precipitations have been also reported in Cuba, particularly in the eastern provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin, Las Tunas and Camaguey, as well as in the central province of Ciego de Avila.

The Dominican Republic has been severely affected by the storm, with loss of human lives and damage to urban and rural infrastructure, especially in the provinces of San Juan, La Vega, Sánchez Ramírez, Azua, Barahona and the Distrito Nacional. Main agricultural losses are reported in plantain and banana plantations, in the vegetable sub-sector (especially tomatoes and red onions), as well as in cassava and paddy crops. In several areas, although a detailed assessment is not yet available, it is reported that production of plantains and vegetables has been almost completely lost. The excess of soil moisture will also probably delay planting operations of the 2007 third season bean crop that were expected to start at the beginning of November. In addition, in the coming days, the gradual release of the water exceptionally accumulated in the Tavare dam in the province of Santiago may cause the overflow of the Yaque del Norte River, with further floods in the north-west provinces between the towns of Navarrete and Montecristi. In these provinces, harvesting of the 2007 second season paddy crop, which represents almost 30 per cent of the annual production, is still under way and, if floods increase, the prolonged saturation of soils may dramatically increase output losses.

In Haiti, the impact of Tropical Storm Noel was moderate, with damages to just a few houses in the North-East and no reports of fatalities. The excess of soil moisture is expected to cause some damages to the 2007 second season bean crop that is being harvested in the highlands. The abundant precipitations have also slowed down the pace of clearing and recovery operations in the areas that were recently flooded on October 10, with negative consequences for the affected families.