Hurricane Matthew, with 140-mph winds, is expected to bring torrential rain and destruction to the Caribbean, including Haiti and Jamaica, later this week.
As of 11 a.m. Monday, the storm was 205 miles southeast of Kingston, Jamaica, and 275 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Forecasters expect that more than a foot of rain could be dumped on the islands, with possible isolated downpours of up to 40 inches in southern Haiti and southwestern Dominican Republic.
After making landfall in Jamaica and Haiti, Matthew will head north toward Cuba, where it is likely to make landfall near Guantanamo Bay Tuesday night.
“This rainfall will likely produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” the hurricane center said. “Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion.”
Haiti has never fully recovered from the devastating earthquake in 2010 and many Haitians seem resigned to loss of life in the face of Hurricane Matthew.
Political upheaval and divisions within the country have hindered any progress to rebuild and many buildings are in a weakened state. Many more residents are homeless, but the government is preparing for the storm as best as it can with 1,300 emergency shelters opened up across the country which can hold up to 340,000 people.
The common tendency in Haiti is for people to try to stay in their homes during natural disasters, but the government is trying to counteract that by broadcasting warnings over the radio and across social media, urging residents to move to the shelters.
In addition to the worries over the initial loss of life, the long-term effects are worrying authorities, including the concern over cholera. The waterborne disease has killed more than 9,000 and sickened more than 700,000 Haitians following the earthquake.
Episcopal Relief and Development has information on what you can do to help.