It was only six years ago that a catastrophic earthquake wrecked havoc on Haiti, leaving more than 300,000 people dead and a country in ruin. And now, Haiti is in the midst of another tragedy, as Hurricane Matthew tore through villages, destroyed crops and livestock and homes leveled.
572 Haitian people are dead, by Reuters tally, and the death toll rising as officials assess damage. The Civil Protection Force of Haiti estimates nearly 27,000 people were in emergency shelters and the United Nations reports, more than one million people have been affected by the storm.
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A bridge connecting the northern and southern hemispheres of Haiti collapsed, disrupting communication and disturbing rescue efforts. Suzy DeFrancis, spokesperson for the American Red Cross, says restoring communication is a priority. “We will bring in technology to help do that,” she said.
The city of Jérémie was nearly destroyed. According to BBC, 30,000 homes were wrecked in Sud province and 50 people killed in the town of Roche-a-Bateau.
While Haitian people were warned, a resident of Les Cayes told the NY Times, people died “because they never believed what the authorities told them when they said they had to evacuate,” He added, “they resisted it.”
Lessons in the wake of the 2010 earthquake proved futile.
“And then you see a disaster and it all goes out the window and it’s immediate, whatever we can do as fast as possible,” Jake Johnston, research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington.
Health officials fear an outbreak of the waterborne cholera infection, which was reportedly introduced after 2015 the quake by United Nations peacekeepers.
FOX Newscaster Shep Smith made headlines for his unabashed warning to Haitian residents.
“This moves 20 miles to the west, and you and everyone you know are dead — all of you — because you can’t survive it,” he said on Thursday. “It’s not possible unless you’re very, very lucky. And your kids die, too.”
The hurricane forced officials to postpone the presidential election.
Hurricane Matthew continues to bring torrential rains and winds of 120 miles per hour up the east coast.
Thousands were left without power in the Bahamas. Florida is under a state of emergency as Hurricane Matthew, which has been downgraded to a category 3 storm, brings 100 mph winds to the east coast. One death has been confirmed in the U.S. and 600,000 left without power.