Hurricane Irma lashed the Caribbean island of Hispanola Thursday, bringing high-speed winds and violent rain to the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Rain covered the entirety of the Dominican, officials said, leaving behind heavy flooding and damage.

The storm passed through the northern side of the Dominican Republic. National Weather Office official Francisco Holguin warned in a press conference Thursday that the storm's significant rainfall could wreak havoc on the region. Initial photos from the region showed downed trees and power lines, damaged buildings and debris littering the streets. 

"We cannot lower our guard until this event leaves our territory," said Holguin, according to Dominican Today

More than 5,500 people were evacuated from the Dominican Republic before the storm hit and initial reports said there had been no deaths on the island. Haiti was also grazed by Hurricane Irma, ripping trees out of the ground and leaving the landscape vulnerable to floods and landslides. Tortuga Island and other regions on Haiti's northern coast were issue evacuation orders, though it remained unclear how many people actually left.

"It looks like Haiti won't get a direct hit from Irma, and that's fortunate because the country is still struggling to recover from Hurricane Matthew, which wiped out the country nearly a year ago," said Hervil Cherubin, country director for the nonprofit Heifer international, according to NPR. "Still, high winds and heavy rains will still likely cause destructive flooding and landslides. The Haitian people are still extremely vulnerable and really can't take much more of that." 

UNICEF announced it was deploying teams to help Haiti's most affected areas in the wake of the storm. Global poverty charity Oxfam International said it was assessing the most vulnerable places in the northern parts of both the Dominican and Haiti to determine how to help in the aftermath of the storm.

"Our main concern remains how much damage Irma's rains and flooding caused to sanitation and water infrastructure," Oxfam said in a press release Friday. "We've heard that flooding is up to a meter high in poor neighborhoods."