Death Toll Raises to 900 in Haiti After Hurricane Matthew


Days after Hurricane Matthew lashed Haiti, leaving widespread devastation, the death toll nears 900. After being unable to establish communication with some of the hardest-hit towns, aid is finally beginning to arrive for the affected areas.

Hurricane Matthew passed over Haiti on Tuesday October 4, 2016, with heavy rains and winds. While the capital Port au Prince was mostly spared from the full strength of the class 4 hurricane, the western cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie received the full force sustaining wind and water damage across wide areas.
Photo Logan Abassi UN/MINUSTAH

Reuters reports that at least 877 people have been killed in the devastating hit by Hurricane Matthew, which clobbered the Caribbean country on Tuesday.

Aid officials have reported that almost 90 percent of some areas of Haiti’s south had been “completely destroyed,” according to BBC News.

CAMS 2016

Authorities were also especially concerned about the department of Grand-Anse on the northern tip of the peninsula, where they believe the death toll and damage is highest, the Associated Press reported. The death toll officials reported did not include Grand-Anse or other nearby areas.

“Devastation is everywhere,” said Pilus Enor, mayor of the town of Camp Perrin. “Every house has lost its roof. All the plantations have been destroyed. … This is the first time we see something like this.”

Haitian officials said more than 28,000 houses have been damaged so far but assessments are only in the initial stages.

Reuters reports that many were killed by falling trees, flying debris and swollen rivers.

Jean-Michel Vigreux, country director for CARE Haiti, said 80 percent of the buildings were destroyed in the town of Jeremie, in Grand Anse.

“All phone lines and electricity are down. Access is completely cut off, and everyone is running out of food and money. The bank is offline. Everyone is very shaken up,” he told the Miami Herald.

“We don’t have any contact with Port-au-Prince yet and there are places we still haven’t reached,” Civil Protection agency official Saint-Victor Jeune told the Associated Press.

With a key bridge washed away and roads impassable, workers have struggled to reach the worst-hit areas, according to the Associated Press. Communication has also been limited with phone lines cut off in the Grande Anse department.

The collapse of the Ladigue Bridge in Petit Goave isolated southwest Haiti from the rest of the country, reports Haiti Libre.

Aid began to come in for Jeremie Friday, with helicopters delivering crates of food and water.

More than 60,000 people remain in shelters.

Clinics began to overflow with patients whose injuries included broken bones that had not been treated since the storm hit, reports Reuters. Cholera also began to take a toll, killing at least seven people in the town of Anse-d’Hainault. Another 17 cases were reported in Chardonnieres.

Cholera is an infectious disease that causes severe, watery diarrhea. Spread through contaminated water, the illness causes dehydration and can lead to death, sometimes in just a few hours if left untreated.

At least 178 schools have been damaged or destroyed, according to Haiti Libre.

At least three towns reported dozens of people were killed in the hills and on the coast of Haiti’s western tip, including Chantal, a farming village where the mayor said 86 people died, Reuters also reports. He said the deaths were largely from trees crushing homes and 20 others remain missing.

The government has estimated at least 350,000 people need some kind of assistance after the disaster, which U.N. Deputy Special Representative for Haiti Mourad Wahba has called the country’s “largest humanitarian event” since the devastating earthquake of 2010.

Until workers can get to the victims, all officials can rely on at this point are the few sketchy details that trickle out of the southeastern parts of the country.

“What we know is that many, many houses have been damaged,” Interior Minister Francois Anick Joseph told the AP Wednesday. “Some lost rooftops and they’ll have to be replaced, while others were totally destroyed.”

Haiti’s biggest banana growing region, Arcahaie, saw about 80 percent of its banana crops destroyed by winds and flooding, according to the Miami Herald.

After a request for aid from Haiti, the United States deployed the USS George Washington carrier and the amphibious transport dock Mesa Verde, supported by Navy and Marine aviation, to provide relief to the ravaged country after the storm, along with the hospital ship Comfort, according to ABC 13.

The commander of U.S. forces in the Caribbean said Wednesday that nine U.S. military helicopters were being deployed to Haiti in response to the government’s request for aid. Some are equipped for search-and-rescue or medical evacuation missions, and others to transport supplies.

Adm. Kurt Tidd told reporters at the Pentagon that his command is sending a one-star Navy admiral to Port-au-Prince to lead a “joint task force” to help coordinate humanitarian assistance and other storm-related relief. Between 150 and 200 U.S. military personnel are likely to travel to Haiti.

Four deaths were recorded in the neighboring Dominican Republic, including three children, and one each in Colombia and in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

A presidential election scheduled for Sunday has been suspended due to extensive damage from the storm. The Provision Electoral Council announced the postponement Wednesday but did not give a new date for the election.

Reade More: Caribbean 360