Melanie Martinez holds the family cat, which they have renamed Isaac, after salvaging items from their flooded home in Plaquemines Parish on September 3, 2012 in Braithwaite, Louisiana. Martinez, along with her husband and her mother, was forced to ride out the storm in the home when their car broke down. The house quickly flooded and they were rescued by a neighbor who was able to break into their attic to save them. They only were able to rescue Isaac today who survived six days without food at the flooded home. This is the fifth home Martinez has had destroyed due to hurricanes in Louisiana. Damage totals from the hurricane could top $2 billion more than 125,000 customers are still without power six days after the storm made landfall. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Tropical Storm Isaac swept across Haiti's southern peninsula early Saturday, dousing a capital city prone to flooding and adding to the misery of a poor nation still trying to recover from the terrible 2010 earthquake.
The storm was heading toward eastern Cuba and forecasters said it poses a threat to Florida Monday and Tuesday, just as the Republican Party gathers for its national convention in Tampa. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said a hurricane warning is in effect for the Florida Keys and for the west coast of Florida from Bonita Beach south to Florida Bay.
At least three people were reported dead. A woman and a child died in the town of Souvenance, Sen. Francisco Delacruz told a local radio station. A 10-year-old girl died in Thomazeau when a wall fell on his, said Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, director of Haiti's Civil Protection Office.
She said as many as 5,000 people were evacuated because of flooding.
Many, however, stayed and suffered. The sprawling seaside shantytown of Cite Soleil was among the areas that flooded.
"From last night, we're in misery," said Cite Soleil resident Jean-Gymar Joseph. "All our children are sleeping in the mud, in the rain."
More than 50 tents in a quake settlement collapsed, forcing people to scramble through the mud to try to save their belongings.
Forecasters said Isaac could dump as much as eight to 12 inches (30 centimeters) and even up to 20 inches (51 centimeters) on Hispaniola, which is shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic, as well as produce a storm surge of up to 3 feet (0.9 meters).
Isaac was centered about 95 miles (150 kilometers) east-southeast of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, early Saturday, with maximum sustained winds of 60 mph (95 kph). It was moving northwest at 14 mph (22 kph). Tropical force winds extended nearly 200 miles (321 kilometers) from the storm's center.
Forecasters said the storm was likely to march up the Gulf of Mexico, offshore of Florida's west coast, as a hurricane on Monday, just as the Republican National Convention is scheduled to start. Tampa was within the storm's possible strike zone, but the most likely course would carry it toward landfall on the Florida Panhandle late Tuesday or early Wednesday.
Cuba declared a state of alert Friday for six eastern provinces and five central provinces were put on preliminary watch. Vacationers in tourist installations of those regions were evacuated.
State television began an all-day transmission of news about the storm on Saturday.
Radio Baracoa, from the city of Baracoa on the northern coast of eastern Cuba, reported that high seas began topping the city's seawall Friday night. Reports said lower than normal rains had left reservoirs well below capacity and in good shape to absorb runoff.
Cuba has a highly organized civil defense system that goes door-to-door to enforce evacuations of at-risk areas, largely averting casualties from storms even when they cause major flooding and significant damage to crops.
In Port-au-Prince, a city of some 3 million ringed by mountains, authorities and aid workers tried to evacuate people from a tent camp to temporary shelters.
More than a hundred people were at a shelter in a school that President Michel Martelly toured Friday, but after the visit some people began to leave.
"They dragged me from the camp and brought me here," 38-year-old Marlene Charles, thirsty and hungry, said about the aid groups. "There's no way I'm going to spend the night here."
In the Dominican Republic, authorities evacuated people from low-lying areas but, as in Haiti, they encountered resistance. Still, authorities said they evacuated nearly 2,900 people. The majority were transferred to the homes of relatives while about 300 were sent to government shelters.
Flooding was reported in Santo Domingo and Santiago but no reports of injuries.
Organizers of next week's Republican National Convention in Tampa were monitoring storm developments, and authorities said there were no plans to cancel the convention.
Out in the eastern Atlantic, former Tropical Storm Joyce degenerated into a weak low pressure system Friday.
Associated Press writers Evens Sanon in Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Peter Orsi in Havana and APTN journalist Fernando Gonzalez in Santiago, Cuba; Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico; and Ezequiel Abiu Lopez in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, contributed to this report.