‘People May Starve’: Hurricane Matthew Leaves Thousands Without Food, Water in Haiti
More than 100 are dead after Hurricane Matthew flattened and flooded coastal towns.
Close to 300 people are dead and coastal towns are believed to have sustained massive damage in Haiti following Hurricane Matthew, though officials and aid workers are still trying to reach remote parts of the country.
The New York Times reported 283 people had been found dead so far. The number of dead has steadily ticked up and is expected to continue to rise as officials survey the damage from the Category 4 storm that battered the country Tuesday.
Helicopter footage of the town of Jeremie showed widespread destruction. A radio host in Haiti’s capital told the BBC that the town was “pretty much wiped out from the seaboard all the way to the cathedral” and that the town is cut off from the rest of the country because communications lines are down.
"The devastation that we are seeing is horrible … The town is really in dire straits and it's very, very bad down there,” he said.
A pilot with the Haitian Health Foundation said that “barely 1 percent of houses are standing” in Jeremie, according to ABC News. “The people are alive … they survived. But soon they may starve. They're cut off."
The United Nations said the 350,000 Haitians are affected, while the country’s own Civil Protection Department said nearly 2,000 homes have been flooded and 15,000 people have been evacuated.
The country has postponed presidential elections scheduled for this weekend, according to AFP.
A bridge that connects the region where Jeremie is situated to the country’s capital was destroyed, making it difficult for officials and aids workers to reach affected areas, according to the BBC.
A BBC reporter on the ground in Haiti said that houses were underwater, crops were flattened, and people were trying to clear debris, while police and military forces had not yet arrived to help.
The town of Roche-a-Bateau had 24 people killed, according to Reuters.
"I've never seen anything like this," said the town's delegate Louis Paul Raphael.
Aid groups including the International Red Cross, World Vision, and Samaritan’s Purse are working to bring supplies to hard-to-reach areas, the groups said today.
Samaritan’s Purse began airlifting 20 tons of water filters, plastic sheeting, hygiene kits, and blankets to victims along with a disaster assistance response team, the group said. They warned that cholera and sanitation problems could be exacerbated by the storm.
Catholic Relief Services said its workers rode out the storm in Dame Marie, a coastal town in the path of the eye of the hurricane where almost all of the buildings in the town of 15,000 were destroyed.
CRS also said that the 30,000 residents of Jeremie were believed to be without water.
Crews are trying to rebuild the bridge connecting the southeastern region to Port-au-Prince, CRS said.
World Vision said it began distributing blankets, toiletries, and bottled water in Port-au-Prince, and has tarps, blankets, water containers, and hygiene kits ready to be distributed. The staff expected that more than a million people would be affected by the storm.
Hurricane Matthew, now a Category 4 storm, is heading for the Eastern coast of Florida, where the governor has encouraged 1.5 million people to evacuate.