GONAIVES, Haiti — Her third day without food or water, Fleurie Benita waded through the calf-high mud, balancing her life's possessions on her head, uncertain of what to do next, or what will come next.
With every step, the mother of four recalled the blinding sheets of rain and the sound of death knocking at her front door. Then her desperate decision.
''I grabbed the children and ran. We ran to a neighbor's house,'' said Benita, 24, who like so many here credit the last-minute decision to brave Tropical Storm Hanna's pounding downpour for saving her life. "The water didn't even leave me a bed to sleep in. Even the pots and pans were washed away.''
After three days of relentless rains from Hanna, the sun finally pierced the clouds Thursday in this low-lying city. And residents began to survey the damage.
Hanna has become the deadliest storm of the 2008 hurricane season. It killed 137 people in Haiti, including 102 from the Artibonite region, where Gonaives is located, said Abel Nazaire of Haiti's civil protection bureau.
The slightest rains can trigger flash floods and mudslides in Gonaives, where the mountains have been deforested to make charcoal. Three rivers flow down the mountain, all aiming their streams at the town.
The region has been basically cut off from the rest of the country since the storm struck Monday evening. Many residents remained hunkered down on rooftops, while others got around by wading through waist-and knee-deep rivers of mud, passing flooded-out homes and buses tossed on their sides.
Read the full story at MiamiHerald.com.