PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – A United Nations official says Hurricane Matthew has caused the biggest humanitarian crisis in Haiti since the devastating earthquake of 2010.

Deputy Special Representative for Haiti Mourad Wahba says in a statement that many people have been forced from their homes and communications systems have been knocked out in the country's hard-hit southwestern peninsula. He says at least 10,000 people are in shelters.

Wahba says officials have received reports of destroyed houses and overflowing hospitals, with shortages fresh water. He also says the hospital in the city of Les Cayes had its roof blown off.

The Latest: Storm seen as biggest Haitian crisis since quake

A woman cries amid the rubble of her home, destroyed by Hurricane Matthew in Baracoa, Cuba, Wednesday, 5 October 2016. The hurricane rolled across the sparsely populated tip of Cuba overnight, destroying dozens of homes in Cuba's easternmost city, Baracoa, leaving hundreds of others damaged. Photo: Ramon Espinosa / AP Photo

By Pam Wright
5 October 2016

(weather.com) – Leaving Haiti in "total disaster," Hurricane Matthew slammed into Cuba Tuesday night.

Hit in some areas by 24-foot waves, Cuba faced high winds, strong storm surge and torrential downpours as the storm marched across the country.

Hurricane Matthew Leaves 'Catastrophic' Devastation in Haiti, Pounds Parts of Cuba; 11 Deaths Blamed on Storm

Apart from Baracoa, there were no other reports of extensive damage, the AP reports. However, a large shipping container was washed three blocks inland from storm surge.

At least 11 deaths have been attributed to the storm. Five deaths were reported in Haiti, including a 26-year-old man who drowned trying to rescue a child who fell into a rushing river, authorities said. The child was saved. Two people died in Petit Goave, including a woman who was by a falling electrical pole, reported the mayor of the town, according to the Associated Press.

Four deaths were recorded in the neighboring Dominican Republic, including three children, and one each in Colombia and in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Haiti Libre reported on Wednesday that one person remains missing and dozens have been injured.

It's difficult to determine the number of casualties from the storm in Haiti after a key bridge was washed out, roads became impassable and phone communication was cut off from Haiti's hardest-hit areas, but major damage has been reported, according to the AP.

"It's the worst hurricane that I've seen during my life," Fidele Nicolas, a civil protection official in Nippes, told AP. "It destroyed schools, roads, other structures."

According to Haiti Libre, 14,530 people have been displaced, 2,703 families are affected and 1,885 houses are flooded. […]

Major flooding was reported in several southern towns, including Petit Goave, where the Ladigue Bridge collapsed Tuesday, isolating southwest Haiti from the rest of the country, reports Haiti Libre.

"The river has overflowed all around us," church pastor Louis St. Germain told CNN. "It's terrible … a total disaster." […]

Les Cayes was reportedly underwater after being inundated by the storm, which is being blamed for triggering landslides, AFP reports. 

"We have already recorded a landslide between Les Cayes and Tiburon in Haiti's Sud department," director of civil protection Marie-Alta Jean-Baptise told AFP. […]

Haitian Sen. Nenel Cassy told the Miami Herald "the situation in the Nippes [region] is truly catastrophic."

"The amount of rain we're seeing accumulate is enormous," the assistant director of the aid organization CARE in Haiti, Laura Sewell, told NPR Tuesday morning. Speaking from Port-au-Prince, she said she had heard informal reports of mudslides elsewhere in the country.

"What we're looking at here is a lot of flooding," said Sewell. "Haiti is very mountainous so there's a good chance of landslides and mudslides." [more]

Hurricane Matthew Leaves 'Catastrophic' Devastation in Haiti, Pounds Parts of Cuba; 11 Deaths Blamed on Storm

A girl watches as authorities arrive to evacuate people from her house in Tabarre, Haiti, Monday, 3 October 2016. Photo: Dieu Nalio Chery / AP Photo

By Paul Schemm and Brian Murphy, with additional reporting by Carol Morello, William Branigin, and David Filipov
5 October 2016

(Washington Post) – Emergency teams in Haiti struggled Wednesday to reach hurricane-ravaged areas cut off by washed-out bridges and mudslides after Hurricane Matthew roared over the nation’s western tip and began a devastating island-hopping path that arcs toward the U.S. coast.

The full extent of Matthew’s blow to Haiti remained unclear, with communications almost fully severed to some regions in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation — where tens of thousands of people still live in tents after an earthquake six years ago killed 200,000 people.

At least 11 deaths — including at least four in the neighboring Dominican Republic — have been blamed on the hurricane, which packed winds of up 145 mph when it hit Haiti on Tuesday and then moved on toward Cuba and the Bahamas. A weakened Matthew was expected to make landfall in Florida on Thursday.

“What we know is that many, many houses have been damaged,” Haitian Interior Minister François Anick Joseph said. “Some lost rooftops and they’ll have to be replaced, while others were totally destroyed.” […]

Many people live in rudimentary shacks crowding the hillsides that are especially vulnerable to the high winds and lashing rains of a hurricane — as well as the landslides that often occur afterward.

The U.N. deputy special representative for Haiti, Mourad Wahba, called Matthew “the largest humanitarian event” in Haiti since the earthquake and said that “much of the population” has already been displaced. […]

Jean-Michel Vigreux, director in Haiti for the aid group CARE, said estimates on damage have reached as high as $1 billion even before the full extent of the devastation is tallied.

“It is very scary,” he said in a statement. […]

“We’re seeing enormous amounts of flooding, enormous amounts of wind damage,” said John Hasse, national director for the aid organization World Vision in Haiti. Before Matthew made landfall, staffers had been trying to persuade people to get to safe structures, he said.

“Yet right up until the storm hit, we still heard many people saying, ‘We’re waiting on God’ and not making preparations,” Hasse said. He said the charity has warehouses stocked with blankets, tarps, water cans and hygiene kits to assist nearly 100,000 people, but “we expect it to go well over a million to even millions of people affected by this.”

Relief officials said many people rejected pleas to evacuate, fearing that they would lose their meager belongings to looters. For some, who changed their minds as the storm unleashed its fury, it was now too late to help them, the officials said. [more]

Aid teams in Haiti struggle to reach regions slammed by Hurricane Matthew

Microwave image of rainfall rates in Hurricane Matthew from the F-16 polar orbiting satellite taken at 5:02 am EDT 4 October 2016. At the time, Matthew was a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Rainfall amounts in excess of 1 inch per hour (orange colors) were occurring along the coasts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Photo: NRL Tropical Cyclone Page

By Jeff Masters
4 October 2016

(Weather Underground) – Powerful Hurricane Matthew made landfall on the southwestern tip of Haiti near 7 am EDT October 4, 2016 as a Category 4 storm with 145 mph winds. Matthew’s extreme rains, large storm surge, and Category 4 winds are likely to be catastrophic for Haiti. The hurricane is the third strongest one ever recorded in the impoverished nation, and their strongest hurricane in 52 years. The only Haitian hurricanes stronger than Matthew were two Category 4 storms with 150 mph winds: Hurricane Cleo of 1964 and Hurricane Flora of 1963. The last major hurricane to make a direct hit in Haiti was Category 3 Hurricane David of 1979, which crossed over the nation from east to west with 115 mph winds. [more]

Matthew Hits Haiti, Their Strongest Hurricane in 52 Years

Hurricane Matthew's eye was clearly evident in this enhanced infrared satellite image from 2345Z (7:45 pm EDT) Monday, 3 October 2016. Photo: NOAA / NESDIS

By Bob Henson and Jeff Masters
4 October 2016

(Weather Underground) – Colossal amounts of rain are soaking Haiti and the Dominican Republic as Category 4 Hurricane Matthew heads for an encounter with the western end of Hispaniola. As of the National Hurricane Center’s update at 8:00 pm EDT Monday, Matthew was located about 200 miles south of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, moving just east of due north at 8 mph. Matthew’s top sustained winds were holding at 140 mph, solidly in the Category 4 range. Just before 8 PM EDT, a Hurricane Hunter flight found a minimum surface pressure of 934 millibars, down from the 940 mb reported in the 8 PM EDT advisory. However, surface winds measured by the SFMR instrument had not yet increased. Matthew may be completing an eyewall replacement cycle, with the original small eye decaying and a larger outer band taking over. Hurricane Hunters described the new eye as ragged, elliptical and kidney-shaped, about 17 by 30 miles across. Depending on how soon this cycle is completed, it’s possible that Matthew's winds could either increase or decrease by 5 - 10 mph prior to the storm making landfall in southwest Haiti around 8 am EDT Tuesday. [more]

Matthew Slamming Hispaniola; Southeast U.S. Landfall a Growing Threat



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