Haiti mourns hur­ri­cane dead as Matthew dwin­dles

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL - PORT-AU-PRINCE: Flood­ing

Haiti be­gan three days of mourn­ing yes­ter­day for vic­tims of Hur­ri­cane Matthew as re­lief of­fi­cials grap­pled with the un­fold­ing dev­as­ta­tion in the Caribbean coun­try’s hard-hit south. Matthew, mean­while, lost its hur­ri­cane sta­tus, sub­sid­ing to a “post-trop­i­cal cy­clone” af­ter cut­ting a swath from Florida to South Carolina that left nine dead.

At 1200 GMT, the storm was still pack­ing winds that gusted to hur­ri­cane strength as it moved away from the US coast­line. But at­ten­tion was shift­ing back to Haiti, the Amer­i­cas’ poor­est coun­try and one shat­tered by a 2010 earth­quake and rav­aged by a cholera epi­demic.

Matthew crashed ashore on Haiti’s south­ern coast on Tues­day as a mon­ster Cat­e­gory 4 storm, pack­ing 145 mile (230 kilo­me­ter) winds. Aerial footage from the hard­est-hit towns in south­ern Haiti showed a ru­ined land­scape of metal shanties with roofs blown away, downed trees ev­ery­where and mud from over­flow­ing rivers cov­er­ing the ground.

Civil de­fense of­fi­cials put the death toll at 336, al­though some of­fi­cials said it topped 400. In­terim Pres­i­dent Jo­cel­erme Privert de­clared three days of na­tional mourn­ing for the dead. As the death toll climbed, pledges of aid flooded in, with the United States an­nounc­ing it was send­ing a Navy ship, the USS Mesa Verde, whose 300 Marines will add to the 250 per­son­nel and nine he­li­copters al­ready or­dered to de­ploy to Haiti.

France an­nounced it was send­ing 60 troops, with 32 tons of hu­man­i­tar­ian sup­plies and wa­ter pu­rifi­ca­tion equip­ment. Cal­i­for­nia-based char­ity In­ter­na­tional Re­lief Teams said it was do­nat­ing $7 mil- lion in med­i­cal sup­plies with in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions MAP In­ter­na­tional and Hope for Haiti.

In the United States, coastal flood­ing from the storm surge posed the big­gest threat to life and prop­erty. “The com­bi­na­tion of a dan­ger­ous storm surge, the tide, and large and de­struc­tive waves will cause nor­mally dry ar­eas near the coast to be flooded by ris­ing waters mov­ing in­land from the shore­line,” the NHC said.

Matthew made land­fall south­east of McClel­lanville, South Carolina, on Satur­day as a weak­ened Cat­e­gory 1 storm, but it trig­gered se­ri­ous in­land flood­ing. Mil­lions of Amer­i­cans were sub­ject to evac­u­a­tion or­ders and cur­fews were slapped on cities as the lethal storm bar­reled north af­ter storm­ing through Haiti, the Do­mini­can Repub­lic, Ja­maica, Cuba and the Ba­hamas.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama had de­clared fed­eral states of emer­gency in Florida, Ge­or­gia, and North and South Carolina. More than a mil­lion peo­ple were left with­out power, which was slowly be­ing re­stored. In Jack­sonville Beach, Sam Vond, a 68-year-old re­tiree, calmly rode his bike along the shore Satur­day.

“It wasn’t that bad. I didn’t go out­side. We stayed in the house un­til we were told it was OK to get out. Luck­ily, no dam­age to my house, so I’m happy,” he said.

Matthew dam­aged roofs at the Kennedy Space Cen­ter but spared Florida’s heav­ily pop­u­lated south-cen­tral coast a di­rect hit. Cities in­clud­ing Sa­van­nah, Ge­or­gia, and Charleston or­dered dusk-to­dawn cur­fews to keep peo­ple off the streets and guard against loot­ing. — AFP

JEREMIE, HAITI: A young man car­ries wa­ter to re­move the mud of his house destroyed by Hur­ri­cane Matthew on Oc­to­ber 8, 2016. — AFP

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