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4 dead in Haiti after Tropical Storm Isaac

HAVANA -- Tropical Storm Isaac pushed over Cuba yesterday after sweeping across Haiti's southern peninsula, where it caused flooding and at least four deaths, adding to Haiti's misery of a poor nation still trying to recover from the 2010 earthquake.

Isaac's center made landfall just before midday near the far-eastern tip of Cuba, downing trees and power lines.

Forecasters said Isaac poses a threat to Florida Monday and Tuesday, just as the Republican Party gathers for its national convention in Tampa. It could eventually hit the Florida Panhandle as a Category 2 hurricane with winds of nearly 100 mph.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency, officials urged vacationers to leave the Florida Keys and the U.S. National Hurricane Center said a hurricane warning was in effect there, as well as for the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach south to Ocean Reef and for Florida Bay.

In Haiti, the dead included a 10-year-old girl on whom a wall fell, according to the country's Civil Protection Office. The government also reported two injuries, "considerable damage" to agriculture and homes, nearly 8,000 people evacuated and more than 4,000 taken to temporary shelters.

Many, however, stayed and suffered. The Grise River overflowed north of Port-au-Prince, flooding the sprawling shantytown of Cite Soleil.

"They promised they were going to build us a sturdy home and it never came," Jean-Robert Sauviren, 63, an unemployed father of six, said as he stood barefoot in the water.

Ricknel Charles, 42, a pastor, sheltered some 50 displaced people in his church. "This is the only thing I can do for them: give them a place to sleep," he said.

About 300 homes in Cite Soleil lost their roofs or were flooded three feet deep, according to Rachel Brumbaugh, operation manager for the U.S. nonprofit group World Vision.

Doctors Without Borders said it anticipated a spike in cholera cases due to flooding and it was preparing to receive more patients.

The international airport reopened by the afternoon, but there was still extensive flooding throughout Port-au-Prince after 24 hours of steady rain.

Forecasters said the storm would likely march up through the Gulf of Mexico and approach the Florida Keys today, then continue north off the state's west coast as a hurricane Monday.

At one point last night, the storm was centered about 80 miles east-northeast of Camaguey, Cuba, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and moving northwest at 20 mph, the U.S. hurricane center said.

Flooding was reported in low-lying coastal areas and 230 people were in emergency shelters, according to Cuban state TV.

Operations at the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay were returning to normal by late afternoon. "The bad weather did not materialize here," Navy Capt. Robert Durand said.

In the Dominican Republic, nearly 7,800 people were evacuated from low-lying areas, and at least 10 rural settlements were cut off by flooding, a rescue team director said. Power was knocked out in parts of the capital, Santo Domingo.

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