Matthew pummels Haiti and Cuba, evacuations begin in US
HURRICANE Matthew pummelled Haiti and moved on to Cuba after killing nine people, unleashing floods and forcing hundreds of thousands to flee the Caribbean’s worst storm in nearly a decade.
Far to the north, the first evacuations were ordered in the US yesterday as coastal residents prepared to escape the approaching monster storm, expected off the East Coast later this week.
The death toll stood at nine – five in Haiti and four in the Dominican Republic – but was certain to rise as Matthew bruised its way north.
The full scope of the damage, human and material, remained unclear.
Civil protection officials in Haiti said they were struggling to communicate with the south after Matthew’s furious wind and rain blew down telephone lines.
A partial assessment of the damage, which excluded the department of Grande Anse, which was in the direct eye of the storm, indicated that 14,500 people have been displaced and 1855 homes flooded. Those numbers were expected to increase.
Americans girded for a taste of nature’s fury.
Florida, South Carolina and parts of North Carolina have declared states of emergency, and South Carolina was evacuating 1.1 million people from its coast, trying to get them at least 160 kilometres (100 miles) inland.
Matthew made landfall in Haiti shortly after daybreak as an “extremely dangerous” Category Four storm – the maximum is five – near the southwestern town of Les Anglais, packing top winds of around 230km per hour, the NHC said.
It marked the first time in 52 years that a Category Four storm made landfall in Haiti. –