Over the weekend, heavy rain in the Dominican Republic led to at least 21 people losing their lives and forced thousands to leave their homes, according to officials. Among the victims were three children.
The country’s president emphasized the importance of taking climate change seriously in the face of this disaster. Over 13,000 people had to move to safer places as intense rains in the past 48 hours caused flooding, power outages, and damage to bridges and roads, as reported by the Caribbean country’s Emergency Operations Center (COE) on Sunday.
Tragically, nine people died on Saturday in the capital, Santa Domingo, when heavy rains caused a highway tunnel wall to collapse onto their cars. The water had seeped into saturated ground, causing the concrete wall’s foundation to give way, according to the Ministry of Public Works.
A thorough investigation into the incident has been initiated, and a significant number of the country’s 32 provinces are still under alert status. Videos on social media showed cars being swept away by rushing water and buildings submerged.
President Luis Abinader declared this as the “largest rainfall event ever” in the country’s history and urged people to recognize the reality of climate change. He noted “extensive and substantial” damages and suspended classes until Wednesday to assess affected schools and ensure the safety of students.
The tropical depression causing the heavy rains is expected to persist for the next 24 hours, according to a weather alert from the United States embassy. More than 2,500 people had to be rescued, and about 2,600 homes were affected by the storm, as reported by the COE.
Forty-five communities were left without communication, and the majority of the country’s provinces are still under red and yellow weather alerts. President Abinader expressed deep shock at the loss of life and offered unconditional support to those affected.
Notably, four of the deceased were U.S. nationals, and three were from neighboring Haiti, as per reports. The situation remains challenging, and the country is grappling with the aftermath of this devastating weather event.