In spite of the tradition that rain during the first days of January means a good year for farmers, so far, the rains haven’t stopped, and now thousands are being flooded out of their homes and farms. The El Caribe reports official numbers of 6,000 displaced persons, dozens of communities isolated by flood waters and 20% of the tomato crop lost along the Northwest and 5,000 tareas (629 sq. mts) of rice under water. In towns like Arenoso, near San Francisco de Macoris in Duarte Province, townspeople are having to get around on rubber boats. The Listin Diario says that President Leonel Fernandez has ordered members of his cabinet to go to the aid of the flood victims. Public Works, Agriculture and Civil Defense are at the forefront of the assistance teams. Luis Luna Paulino, the head of Civil Defense, told reporters that they have not had to habilitate shelters since so far flood victims that have had to abandon their homes are staying with family and friends. Agriculture Minister Amilcar Romero said that large extensions of rice lands on the Lower Yuna are flooded and the crop may well be lost. Freddy Perez, the Minister of Public Works issued warnings about caution for those traveling on the highways that lead to Jarabacoa, and Constanza and the Puerto Plata (Luperon highway). Perez said that “until the rain stops we (PW) can’t do anything to fix the landslides.”
The Presidential Social Plan has sent 50,000 food rations to the area of the Lower Yuna, and Public Works is sending heavy equipment to open roads and help the affected communities. The flooding has affected people from Bonao and the area around San Francisco de Macoris, to Monte Cristi.