REPORTS: Hurricane Matthew kills hundreds while battering Haiti, Cuba and Bahamas

By By Kevin Byrne, AccuWeather Staff Writer
October 08, 2016, 10:05:29 AM EDT

For the latest information on Hurricane Matthew impacts in the Caribbean, click here. The reports below are no longer being updated.

Street flooding is being reported in downtown Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. The Bahamas Press is reporting significant damage on the island of New Providence, following the passage of deadly Hurricane Matthew.

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Matthew made landfall on the island of Grand Bahama at 8 p.m. EDT, according to the National Hurricane Center.

CARE has been readying its storm response since before Matthew made landfall in the Caribbean. The relief organization said it will be scaling up its response efforts in Haiti to provide tarps and hygiene kits to about 50,000 people.

Damage assessments are still underway in Haiti, said Jean-Michel Vigreux, CARE Country Director in Haiti.

“The population is very strained,” Vigreux said. “Strengthening people’s resilience will be key to any recovery plan.”

Relief efforts are also ongoing in Cuba, although the full extent of the impacts in that country was reportedly unclear.

“Thanks to the Cuban government’s early efforts to evacuate residents, it’s expected there will be few casualties from this massive storm,” said Richard Paterson, CARE country representative in Cuba. “However, we are concerned about the long-term impact Matthew will have, especially in poor, rural areas for families whose homes, harvests and livelihoods may have been destroyed.”

In areas of the Bahamas where it is safe, crews from the Bahamas Power and Light Company are already working on restoring power outages.

The National Emergency Management Agency is coordinating efforts to rescue and evacuate residents who have found themselves trapped in their homes due to flooding, according to the Tribune.

Conditions across Nassau will begin to improve on Thursday afternoon, AccuWeather Meteorologist Ed Vallee said.

Matthew will continue to strengthen as it approaches Florida.

Widespread structural damage was reported in Haiti.


According to Reuters, about 80 percent of homes in Haiti's southwestern Sud Department have been damaged, and 11,000 people are in shelters.

Haiti has postponed its upcoming presidential election in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. The election was originally scheduled for Sunday, according to the Associated Press.

The death toll from Matthew now stands at 16, with at least 10 deaths reported in Haiti, the AP reported.

The U.S. military announced on Wednesday that it is sending about 100 military personnel and nine helicopters to help provide humanitarian assistance in Haiti.

"Hurricane Matthew has caused heavy wind damage and extensive flooding in southern Haiti, and strong winds have downed trees and power lines and destroyed agricultural fields, Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd said. “We have reports indicating that communication infrastructure [is damaged] and that roads along the southern coastline are impassable,” he added.


Rescue workers are struggling to reach the hardest-hit locations in Haiti due to the damage caused by Matthew. Mourad Wahba, the U.N. secretary-general's deputy special representative for Haiti, told the Associated Press that there are at least 10,000 people in shelters and hospitals were overflowing.

As Matthew moves into the Bahamas, evacuations are underway in the northernmost island of Grand Bahama, while power outages will go in effect in the island of New Providence at 5 p.m. local time, the Tribune reported.

At least 11 people in the Caribbean are reported dead as a result of Matthew's destruction, according to the Associated Press.

According to the report, the death toll could be higher as the storm has washed out a major bridge, roads, and phone lines in Haiti's hardest hit area. The last reports came in around nightfall on Tuesday.

So far, at least five deaths are reported in Haiti, four in the Dominican Republic and two more throughout the islands.

According to authorities, one man who died in Haiti drowned after trying to save a child who had fallen in a rushing river. The child survived.

Samaritan's Purse, an international Christian relief organization, is reporting serious damage in Citi Soleil, one of Haiti's largest slums, located in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area.

"Samaritan’s Purse field staff are on the ground, assessing damage, and preparing a response to bring relief to survivors of the Category 4 storm," the organization said in a statement.

Various health and sanitation issues could be exacerbated by Matthew, including the spread of Cholera, Samaritan's Purse said.

Matthew made landfall on eastern Cuba around 8 p.m. EDT as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 140 mph.

Matthew is the first hurricane to make landfall on Cuba since Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012. It has also become the longest-lasting hurricane to be at or above Category 4 strength in the Atlantic basin during the month of October.

As the storm continues to track to the north on a path toward the East Coast of the United States, the number of Matthew-related fatalities has risen to nine, according to the Associated Press.

Despite the storm tracking northward, wind and rain continue to batter parts of Haiti. The country’s Civil Protection Agency said that there have been many homes that were either damaged or destroyed due to the storm.

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

The Nassau Airport in the Bahamas reported.

Officials were holding an emergency meeting to determine how to restore access, but they said it was going to be difficult to find an alternative route, according to AFP.

As the center of Matthew continues to move away from Haiti, the storm is leaving behind many flooded roads, homes and downed trees. Damage to schools and roads has been reported. According to the Associated Press, the death toll from Matthew now stands at seven since it first formed last week.



Trees were downed in Aux Cayes, Haiti, after Matthew moved across the island.


Downed tree limbs litter this street in Aux Cayes, Haiti. (Photo/Caroline Graham)

With the worst conditions over for Jamaica, the government gave the all clear for businesses to resume operations, local media reported.

Television Jamaica said the government plans to open all schools on Wednesday.

"Conditions will continue to improve in Jamaica," AccuWeather Meteorologist Mike Doll said. "There could still be some gusty winds and rough surf, but the system has moved away."

Matthew made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near Les Anglais, Haiti, at 7 a.m. EDT on Tuesday. The system was the first Category 4 hurricane to make landfall in Haiti since Cleo in 1964.

Life-threatening winds and storm surges continue to pound many towns and villages in Haiti.


"It's much too early to know how bad things are but we do know there are a lot of houses that have been destroyed or damaged in the south," Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, the director of the country's Civil Protection Agency, told The Associated Press.

President Jocelerme Privert advised Haitians to take refuge in schools and churches if their house could collapse, according to the AP. “Hurricane Matthew is currently moving over the western most part of the Tiburon Peninsula of southwest Haiti,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said. “Just before moving over the peninsula, the hurricane had maximum sustained winds of 145 mph.” Hurricane Matthew will weaken after being over land in Haiti.

The outer bands of Hurricane Matthew reached portions of Jamaica and Haiti on Monday night.

Dozens of homes were already flooded in the town of Les Anglais, Haiti, due to Matthew's storm surge, according to Reuters. In the nearby town of Tiburon, residents who refused to evacuate earlier this week fled once the sea began to rise.

"Everyone is trying to find a safe place to protect themselves, the situation is very difficult," Tiburon mayor Remiza Denize said in a statement.


Preparations to evacuate began in advance of Hurricane Matthew's arrival, but many residents were fearful to leave their homes.

In poverty-stricken Haiti, where many residents live in slums close to the sea, the effects could be devastating. Reuters reported that many in homes just feet from the ocean in Les Caves refused to evacuate. Many were hesitant to leave because they are fearful their belongings will be stolen.

According to Reuters, the mayor of the Haiti’s largest slum, Cite Soleil located in the capital of Port-au-Prince, requested that the government help transport 150,000 people whose homes were threatened.

"Those people are living all along the seashore in a bunch of huts which usually can't even really protect them from ordinary rain. Now we are talking about a strong hurricane. Imagine the disaster we may have to face here," Mayor Frederic Hislain told Reuters.


Global aid organizations, CARE, the Red Cross and Mercy Corps, said they were closely monitoring the path of the storm as it nears Haiti and had already begun initiating response efforts.

“Based on our experience we anticipate the most pressing needs to be clean drinking water and shelter,” Jessica Pearl, Haiti country director for Mercy Corps said in a statement. “Haiti is not well-prepared for a major hurricane, and we are particularly concerned about people living in rural areas who are unlikely to be receiving preparedness or evacuation information.”

CARE said it was coordinating with the government to help people prepare and evacuate from areas where extreme storm surges are forecast. The organization has already begun distributing supplies such as clean drinking water, tarps, blankets and hygiene kits along to the southern peninsula of Haiti, where access is expected to be difficult following the storm.

The worst storm surge will be over the southern portion of the Tiberion Peninsula, where 10-15 feet of storm surge is expected. 

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“Hurricane Matthew could have devastating impacts in Haiti, as the country has not experienced a storm of this magnitude since 1954. The people of Haiti were already suffering from a drought as a result of El Niño and now they will likely endure the shock of torrential flooding as a result of this storm,” Jean-Michel Vigreux, CARE country director in Haiti, said.

“With the amount of rain expected, thousands are vulnerable to extreme flooding and mudslides due to deforestation in Haiti. The earlier people can get to shelters, the better, which is what we are emphasizing now."

The government of Haiti said that more than 18,000 volunteers are on alert and ready to assist populations and support humanitarian workers.

At least one person has already died in Haiti as a result of Matthew, according to the Associated Press. Two fishermen were thrown overboard when their boat overturned in rough seas off the coast of Saint Jean du Sud, a fishing town located on the southwestern tip of the country. The body of one of the fishermen was recovered Monday, while the other person is still considered missing.


In Jamaica, reports of flooding have already come in from around the island, according to Evan Thompson, the head of Meteorological Service of Jamaica.

Jamaica’s parliament will be postponed on Tuesday, while the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) said that all ministries, departments and agencies will be closed until after the passage of Matthew. Essential services will remain open and ready to respond, the NEOC said.

Desmond McKenzie, Jamaica's minister of local government and community development, said that there are 89 active shelters accommodating 1,845 people who evacuated their homes.

The Cuban News Agency reported that 180,000 Cubans will have to move to schools and government facilities for shelter since they live in areas that could be overrun by flooding and landslides.

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