Haiti braces for Matthew

Jamaica Gleaner - - SOMETHING EXTRA -

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP): EAVY RAINS from the outer bands of Hur­ri­cane Matthew drenched Jamaica and Haiti on Mon­day, flood­ing streets and send­ing many peo­ple to emer­gency shel­ters as the Cat­e­gory Four storm ap­proached the two coun­tries. Two deaths were re­ported in Haiti, bring­ing the to­tal for the storm to at least four.

Matthew had sus­tained winds of 140mph (220kph) as it moved north, up from 130mph (210kph) ear­lier in the day. The cen­tre was ex­pected to pass just east of Jamaica and near or over the south­west­ern tip of Haiti early to­day be­fore head­ing to eastern Cuba, the US Na­tional Hur­ri­cane Cen­ter in Mi­ami said.

“We are look­ing at a dan­ger­ous hur­ri­cane that is head­ing into the vicin­ity of western Haiti and eastern Cuba,” said Richard Pasch, a se­nior hur­ri­cane spe­cial­ist with the cen­tre.

“Peo­ple who are im­pacted by things like flood­ing and mud­slides hope­fully would get out and re­lo­cate, be­cause that’s where we have seen loss of life in the past.”

In Haiti, au­thor­i­ties went door to door in the south coast cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie to make sure peo­ple were aware of the storm. At least 1,200 peo­ple were evac­u­ated to shel­ters in churches and schools.


“We are con­tin­u­ing to mo­bilise teams in the south to move peo­ple away from dan­ger­ous ar­eas,” said Marie Alta Jean-Bap­tiste, head of Haiti’s civil pro­tec­tion agency.

In Port-au-Prince, schools were shut­tered and res­i­dents lined up at gas sta­tions and cleared out the shelves at su­per­mar­kets as a light rain fell in the cap­i­tal. Some wor­ried the city of roughly a mil­lion peo­ple would not fare well. “We are not pre­pared,” un­em­ployed ma­son Fritz Achelus said as he watched wa­ter pool on a down­town street.

At least two fish­er­men died in rough wa­ter churned up by the storm, JeanBap­tiste said. A boat car­ry­ing one of the men cap­sized early Mon­day off the tiny south­west­ern fish­ing town of Saint A woman pro­tects her­self from the rain with a piece of plas­tic prior to the ar­rival of Hur­ri­cane Matthew in Tabarre, Haiti, yes­ter­day. The cen­tre of Hur­ri­cane Matthew is ex­pected to pass near or over south­west­ern Haiti to­day, but the area was al­ready ex­pe­ri­enc­ing rain from the outer bands of the storm. A woman ar­rives with her fan in tow to the univer­sity in Guan­tanamo, Cuba, yes­ter­day, where per­sons were seek­ing shel­ter ahead of Hur­ri­cane Matthew. A hur­ri­cane warn­ing was in ef­fect for Haiti and the Cuban prov­inces of Guan­tanamo, San­ti­ago de Cuba, Hol­guin, Granma and Las Tu­nas, as well as the south­east­ern Ba­hamas.

Jean du Sud as he was try­ing to bring his wooden sk­iff to shore. The body of the other was re­cov­ered a short time later off the nearby town of Aquin af­ter he ap­par­ently drowned.

Their deaths brought the to­tal for the storm to at least four. One man died Fri­day in Colom­bia and a 16year-old in St Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines on Septem­ber 28 when the sys­tem passed through the eastern Caribbean.

Fore­cast­ers said the storm was ex­pected to dump as much as 40 inches (100 cen­time­tres) of rain on some iso­lated ar­eas of Haiti, rais­ing fears of deadly mud­slides and floods in the heav­ily de­for­ested coun­try where many fam­i­lies live in flimsy houses with cor­ru­gated metal roofs.

Matthew is one of the most pow­er­ful At­lantic hur­ri­canes in re­cent his­tory and briefly reached the top clas­si­fi­ca­tion, Cat­e­gory Five, be­com­ing the strong­est hur­ri­cane in the re­gion since Felix in 2007. The hur­ri­cane cen­tre said the storm ap­peared to be on track to pass east of Florida through the Ba­hamas, but it was too soon to pre­dict with cer­tainty whether it would threaten any spot on the US East Coast.

“Al­though our track is to the east of Florida, in­ter­ests there should re­main vig­i­lant and we can’t rule out the pos­si­bil­ity of im­pacts,” Pasch said.

As of 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT), the storm was cen­tred about 250 miles (400 kilo­me­tres) south­west of Haiti’s cap­i­tal of Port-au-Prince and 195 miles (315 kilo­me­tres) south­east of Kingston. It was mov­ing north at 6mph (9kph).

A hur­ri­cane warn­ing was posted for the south­east­ern Ba­hamas, where the storm was ex­pected to move along the eastern length of the is­land chain start­ing early Wed­nes­day. A hur­ri­cane watch was in ef­fect for eastern Cuba, where the gov­ern­ment de­clared a hur­ri­cane alert for six eastern prov­inces and re­moved traf­fic lights from poles in the city of San­ti­ago to keep them from fall­ing be­cause of heavy wind.

Af­ter pass­ing Jamaica and Haiti, Matthew’s cen­tre was ex­pected to pass about 50 miles (80 kilo­me­tres) east of the US Navy base at Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba, where au­thor­i­ties evac­u­ated about 700 spouses and chil­dren of ser­vice mem­bers on mil­i­tary trans­port planes to Florida.

The US in­stal­la­tion has a pop­u­la­tion of about 5,500, in­clud­ing 61 men held at the de­ten­tion cen­tre for ter­ror­ism sus­pects. Navy Cap­tain David Culpep­per, the base com­man­der, said emer­gency shel­ters had been set up and au­thor­i­ties were brac­ing for 80mph winds along with storm surge and heavy rain that could threaten some low-ly­ing ar­eas, in­clud­ing around the power plant and wa­ter de­sali­na­tion fa­cil­ity.

“We have no choice but to pre­pare our­selves to take a frontal as­sault if you will,” Culpep­per said.



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