Saturday 10 December 2016

Hurricane Matthew: Emergency workers struggle to reach worst-hit parts of Haiti as storm barrels towards Florida

More than 14,000 Haitians have been displaced and at least 11 people are dead

Published 06/10/2016 | 07:40

Haitians wait to cross the river La Digue in Petit Goave where the bridge collapsed during the rains of the Hurricane Matthew, southwest of Port-au-Prince, October 5, 2016
Haitians wait to cross the river La Digue in Petit Goave where the bridge collapsed during the rains of the Hurricane Matthew, southwest of Port-au-Prince, October 5, 2016

Emergency responders are scrambling to reach Haitians most affected by Hurricane Matthew, the strongest storm in a decade.

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More than 14,000 people have been displaced and at least 11 people have died in Haiti and Cuba.

The presidential election this weekend in Haiti has been postponed, according to officials, as one of the world's poorest countries is just starting to deal with the aftermath of the storm, which battered thousands of people in poorly-built housing with winds of up to 145 miles per hour.

The area of Haiti most affected was the southern tip, which was directly in the storm’s path, but officials said it was too early to describe the ultimate damage from the storm.

Among the heaviest destruction is a main bridge and communication lines are down.

The worst of the storm may have now passed Haiti, but 10,000 people are still in shelters and hospitals are stretched to their limits, according to UN special representative Mourad Wahba, as reported by the BBC.

Disturbing videos showed people almost being swept away in fast-flowing rivers of mud, while others attempted to cross the swell with their possessions on their backs.

At least four people have been killed in the Dominican Republic due to collapsing walls and mudslides.

Mudslides could continue for days due to rain-soaked ground.

In Cuba, dozens of homes were damaged in the eastern city of Baracoa and several people were reported dead.

Meteorologists predict Hurricane Matthew will barrel towards Florida by Thursday evening and then move eastwards into the Atlantic Ocean, possibly sparing cities like Boston and New York.

Florida governor Rick Scott warned his state was in for a "direct hit" and millions of people across the Sunshine State as well as Georgia, North and South Carolina have been ordered to evacuate.

CNN reported that at least nine out of 14 weather models showed Matthew circling back towards Florida, possibly making landfall in the state twice before dying down.

The storm, currently a category three hurricane, is traveling over the Bahamas on Wednesday evening, and is predicted to dump between eight and 15 inches of rain on the islands.

All air and seat traffic has been halted, and residents are being encouraged to move to higher ground.

Matthew is expected to regain strength over warm water north of Cuba, as reported by the Weather Channel, before hitting parts of Florida’s east coast and areas along the coast of Georgia.

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