Haiti on red alert for direct hit from fierce Hurricane Matthew

The Category 4 storm is expected to make landfall in Haiti on Monday. Evacuations are underway in the country, as well as nearby Cuba and Jamaica. Florida is also preparing for the storm.

Collin Reid/AP
A worker nails a board to use on a storefront window as protection against hurricane Matthew in Kingston, Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. One of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in recent history weakened a little on Saturday as it drenched coastal Colombia and roared across the Caribbean on a course that threatened Jamaica, Haiti and Cuba. Matthew briefly reached the top hurricane classification, Category 5, and was the strongest Atlantic hurricane since Felix in 2007

Haiti issued a red alert and evacuated families from tiny outlying islands as Hurricane Matthew, the strongest storm to cross the Caribbean in years, shifted its route toward the impoverished country.

Matthew is expected to make landfall in Haiti on Monday as a major storm bringing 150 mile per hour (240 kph) winds and extreme rain to the southern coast, simultaneously lashing Jamaica. It will move on to Cuba early on Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

With tropical storm conditions expected to reach Haiti on Sunday night, the prime minister's office issued the alert warning for landslides, high waves and floods. It evacuated residents by boat from small, exposed sandy islands in the south as a precaution on Saturday.

"We have already started evacuations," Haitian Interior Ministry spokesman Albert Moulion said. "The national center of emergency operations has been activated."

On Sunday, boats were prohibited from going to sea.

The slow-moving storm is forecast to dump as much as 40 inches (101 cm) of rain in Haiti and up to 25 inches (64 cm) in Jamaica, the Miami-based hurricane center said.

Matthew was about 340 miles (545 km) southeast of Port-Au-Prince on Sunday morning and the U.S. National Hurricane Center ranked it at Category 4 of the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity. Earlier it had been ranked at the top Category 5.


Cuban President Raul Castro warned that Hurricane Matthew was twice as powerful as Hurricane Sandy, which devastated Cuba's colonial second city, Santiago de Cuba, in 2012 while the United States prepared to airlift navy families from nearby Guantanamo.

"We have to prepare as it has twice the power of Sandy," Mr. Castro was reported as saying in the Granma newspaper on a visit to Santiago de Cuba.

"We have to prepare, there is no other choice."

A few miles east, the United States prepared to airlift some 700 spouses and children to Florida from its Guantanamo Bay naval base to wait out the most powerful cyclone to form over the Atlantic since Hurricane Felix in 2007.

The storm is expected to reach Santiago de Cuba and the Cuban province of Guantanamo, where the U.S. operates a naval base and a military prison, by Tuesday.

"The remaining military and civilian personnel will shelter in place and be able to support recovery efforts once safe to do so following the storm's passage," the Navy said in a statement.

Cuba began evacuating residents along its southern coast in the east of the country and plans to gradually move tourists to safer ground in the next 24 to 36 hours, state-run media said.

About half a dozen hotels frequented by tourists from Europe and Canada are in the path of the storm in Cuba.

Later in the week, Matthew could affect the Bahamas and the east coast of the United States, although forecasts so far out are often inaccurate. Florida Governor Rick Scott said residents of the state should prepare for the storm.

The ferocity of the storm has led to concerns of economic devastation in the poor countries in its path.

"The hurricane will cause an interruption, obviously, in our economic activities here," Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness told Reuters in an interview on Saturday, saying that tourism and agriculture could be most affected.

"We have allocated all the resources we can given our fiscal restraints and I think that the country is prepared for the hurricane," Mr. Holness said.

The hurricane could affect tourist destinations such as Montego Bay. In Kingston, residents stocked up on canned foods, water and batteries ahead of the storm, while banks and offices boarded up their windows. Fishermen were told not to go to sea.

In MegaMart, a supermarket, Sabrina Neil, a 41-year-old radio announcer, stood with a crowd buying flashlights.

"We're not prepared economically and in the infrastructure. If the hurricane is a Category 5, there is going to be a lot of devastation - that's the worst case scenario," she said.

(Additional reporting by Marc Frank and Gabriel Stargardter; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Bill Trott)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Haiti on red alert for direct hit from fierce Hurricane Matthew
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today