Hurricane Matthew makes landfall in vulnerable Haiti

From The Associated Press:

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Hurricane Matthew roared into the southwestern coast of Haiti on Tuesday, threatening a largely rural corner of the impoverished country with devastating storm conditions as it headed north toward Cuba and the eastern coast of Florida.

The dangerous Category 4 storm made landfall around dawn on Haiti’s southern peninsula, where many people live along the coast in shacks of wood or simple concrete blocks that are ill-suited to the force of the system’s maximum sustained winds of 145 mph (230 kph).

Matthew was causing major damage though the extent was not immediately known, according to Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, the director of the country’s Civil Protection Agency.

“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,” Jean-Baptiste told The Associated Press.

Haitian authorities had tried to evacuate people from the most vulnerable areas ahead of the storm but many had been reluctant to leave their property. Some sought shelter only after the worst was already upon them.

“Many people are now asking for help, but it’s too late because there is no way to go evacuate them,” said Fonie Pierre, director of Catholic Relief Services for the Les Cayes area, who was huddled in her office with about 20 people.

Matthew was expected to bring 15-25 inches of rain, and up to 40 inches (100 centimeters) in isolated places, along with up to 10 feet (3 meters) of storm surge and battering waves, said Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist and spokesman for the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

“They are getting everything a major hurricane can throw at them,” Feltgen …

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