World

Haitians have very little shelter from Tropical Storm Tomas

Haiti on Wednesday awaited what could be Hurricane Tomas in a state of emergency, anxiety and -- for many in this battered nation -- resignation.

With the erratic tropical storm regaining strength and on track to strike the country's southwestern coast in the pre-dawn hours Friday, possibly as a Category 1 hurricane, the National Hurricane Center put Haiti under hurricane warning. The Southeastern Bahamas, including the Turks and Caicos, were under a hurricane watch and portions of Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica were under tropical storm watches.

The Haitian government, meanwhile, ordered schools closed Thursday and Friday and continued urging tens of thousands living in flimsy makeshift settlements to seek safer shelter with friends or family.

But with 1.5 million people still homeless after a devastating earthquake, many said they had no choice but to wait out whatever misery Tomas may bring.

``We don't have the means to leave or prepare for anything,'' said Aecene Guerrier, 39, a camp dweller in Place St. Pierre, a hillside suburb of Port-au-Prince. His common-law wife, Souvenir Mathurin, 41, conceded she had taken one precaution: She had tied down loose tarp straps on their closet-size shelter.

The answer was the same in ramshackle Cité Soleil on the waterfront.

``Everybody is living in the streets, so where do they expect us to go?'' said Chantal Jean, 32, whose home built of corrugated zinc panels leaks with every shower. ``I don't have any family and friends to go to.''

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