Hurricane Matthew has claimed the lives of more than 300 people in Haiti and left thousands more wandering around, homeless and dazed.
Public officials from southern Haiti told reporters that more than 300 people have died in Matthew’s wake. Other Haitian officials told Reuters the death toll is at 478, but that number has yet to be confirmed.
Many of those killed lived in small fishing villages on the southeastern section of the state.
The storm drove the sea wash inland and flattened homes with winds of up to 145mph and torrential rain on Monday and Tuesday.
Haiti resident Jean Joseph said the entire southern portion of the country was completely flattened.
“What’s going on right now is a lot of people are walking around,” he told BBC reporters. “They have no home,” he added. “A lot of them – they’re just walking around. I don’t know what they’re going to do.”
Not every Caribbean island has been left so devastated.
Matthew destroyed dozens of homes and damaged hundreds of others in Cuba’s easternmost city, Baracoa. The government managed to evacuate nearly 380,000 people and took quick measures to protect citizens and infrastructure, United Nations (U.N.) officials said.
Civil aviation authorities reported 3,214 destroyed homes.
Matthew is projected to be the most damaging storm since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It dropped slightly to a Category 3 storm after rolling over Cuba and Haiti but has since strengthened and is now considered a Category 4, officials said.
Haiti is especially vulnerable to massive hurricanes and other natural disasters.
Most of Haiti’s city-dwellers live in densely populated shantytowns that take the brunt of earthquake, hurricane, or disease outbreak. An ongoing cholera epidemic and other diseases and viruses are virulent in the country due to poor infrastructure.
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