Hurricane Exacts Death, Destruction
As Hurricane Matthew churns toward the southeastern coast of the U.S., the devastation from the powerful Category Four storm is being assessed in the Caribbean, according to reports.
Haiti—a country still reeling from the devastating earthquake that killed some hundreds of thousands and displaced over 1 million people six years ago—was hit again Tuesday (Oct. 4) with widespread destruction and death as the powerful storm traveled ashore.
The death toll from Matthew has already reached at least 114, with 108 of the deaths occurring in Haiti, Reuters reported Thursday (Oct. 6) afternoon, noting that number is expected to climb when rescuers are able to reach some of the hardest-hit areas along southeastern Haiti. Communication to and from those areas had been cut off.
Structures, Infrastructure Damage
In areas accessible, thousands of properties were damaged by the storm’s powerful winds (up to 145 mph) and storm surge (up to 24-foot waves). Torrential rain flooded coastal towns, washing away bridges and roads, the Associated Press reported.
"It's the worst hurricane that I've seen during my life," Fidele Nicolas, a civil protection official in Nippes, told the Associated Press. "It destroyed schools, roads, other structures."
Civil aviation authorities reportedly counted as many as 3,214 homes destroyed along the southern peninsula. Many families in that area lived in shacks with sheet metal roofs and many did not have the means to escape harm’s way, reports said.
Help on the Way
Government officials say at least 350,000 people are in need of some kind of assistance following the disaster, which is being described as one of the country’s worst humanitarian crisis since the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that hit in January 2010.
Hurricane Matthew kills 102, death toll in Haiti hits 98 https://t.co/L8jd7kbqsw— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) October 6, 2016
At the request of Haitian officials, U.S, military personnel are expected to deliver food and water to hard-hit areas with nine helicopters and ships in the coming days. Other international aid has also been deployed.
Before slamming Haiti, Matthew wreaked havoc in nearby Cuba, destroying dozens of homes and damaging hundreds on the island’s easternmost city of Baracoa, according to reports.
In Baracoa, reports say a large shipping container was washed three blocks inland from the storm surge.
U.N. officials said strong measures were taken to protect infrastructure and communities in Cuba.
In the Path
As of Thursday morning, the storm was situated over the Bahamas on a path forecast to reach the U.S., where mandatory evacuations were being issued in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Florida was bracing for landfall or near-landfall as early as Thursday night. Residents and business owners boarded windows with plywood and placed sandbags.
Contractors working on large projects throughout the region were racing to secure crane booms and other equipment in preparation for the storm.
"We put our hurricane plans in our project plans," MacAdam Glinn, who heads Skanska USA in South Florida, told the Miami Herald. Glinn oversees projects including the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science, which is currently under construction.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued a dire warning Thursday morning to the some 1.5 million people living in evacuated areas.
“This storm will kill you. Time is running out. We don’t have much time left.”