Hurricane Matthew: Jamaica, Haiti brace for ‘life-threatening’ storm
(CNN)A hurricane packing 140-mph winds is threatening to bring destruction to Haiti and other islands as it moves through the Caribbean Sea.
Hurricane Matthew — a storm that, as of 5 p.m. ET Monday, was 225 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, Haiti — could dump a foot or more of rain on that island.
The latest advisory says southern Haiti and southwestern Dominican Republic can expect 15 to 25 inches with possible isolated downpours of up to 40 inches. Eastern Cuba, northwestern Haiti and the southeastern Bahamas could see up to a foot of rain, while Jamaica could see 5 to 10 inches.
A hurricane warning was in effect for Jamaica, Haiti, the eastern tip of Cuba and the southeastern and central Bahamas, the center said.
“On the forecast track, the center of Matthew will approach southwestern Haiti tonight, move near eastern Cuba late Tuesday, and move near or over portions of the southeastern and central Bahamas Tuesday night and Wednesday,” the latest National Hurricane Center advisory says.
The storm, now moving about 7 mph, is expected to remain powerful through early Wednesday, the National Hurricane Center said.
Matthew will likely make landfall sometime Monday night off the western tip of the Tiburon Peninsula, which includes most of Haiti’s southern coast, the National Hurricane Center said. “Destructive waves” could push the storm surge to between 10 and 15 feet in parts of Cuba, Haiti and the Bahamas, the center said.
The hurricane could be especially devastating for Haiti as much of the country’s infrastructure remains weak
after the 2010 earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people. Haiti continues to recover from a post-quake cholera outbreak
that killed another 10,000.
The US State Department issued a travel warning on Sunday urging Americans in Haiti to leave as quickly as possible.
“Airports will close once conditions deteriorate,” the State Department said.
Bracing for a monstrous storm in Jamaica
Over the weekend, Jamaican officials opened storm shelters ahead of the nation’s first major hurricane since Gilbert in 1988.
Hurricane warning is in effect for:
The Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Granma and Las Tunas
* The Southeastern Bahamas, including the Inaguas, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay and Ragged Island
Hurricane watch is in effect for:
* The Turks and Caicos archipelago
* The central Bahamas, including Long Island, Exuma, Rum Cay, San Salvador, and Cat Island
The Cuban province of Camaguey
Source: National Hurricane Center
“[This hurricane] is something Jamaica has not seen in decades,” Desmond McKenzie, Jamaica’s minister of local government and community development, told CNN affiliate WPLG.
Kingston resident Marcia Forbes, who survived Gilbert, told CNN she has seriously prepared for a rough couple of days. She waited in line to fill her car with gasoline. To protect her multimedia business, she placed sandbags against office shutters and covered computers with plastic.
About 3 a.m. Monday, the Norman Manley International Airport near Kingston announced on Facebook it was shutting down until Tuesday morning.
Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness urged government workers to facilitate a speedy recovery to ensure “our economy does not suffer unnecessarily,” The Gleaner reported
“We will see significant damage to property and dislocation and human suffering that will come from such an event if we do not prepare,” Holness said, according to the newspaper.
Some Jamaicans believe they can ride out the storm, and say they’re putting their trust in a higher power, despite pleas from authorities to leave the threatened coast.
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Several women from Port Royal, a fishing village outside Kingston, said their families would hunker down in the nearby St. Peter’s Church, placing their faith in God.
One woman who sought refuge there told CNN the government always warns people to leave before storms. Though at least 14 people died
during Hurricane Ivan in 2004, she lost only the roof on her house, she said.
She conceded fear with Matthew, as she did during Ivan, but said, “You know, I trust in God.”
Crash course to Cuba
After hitting Haiti, Matthew is expected to move north toward Cuba and make landfall Tuesday night, maintaining winds of more than 100 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.
The storm could be brutal for Cuba, where many houses appear too weak to withstand a hurricane.
Military trucks raced around Santiago, the island’s second largest city, to finish preparations. Four years ago, Hurricane Sandy ripped through the city, downing trees, power lines and killing 11 people in the area. To prepare in advance, residents spent Sunday securing their roofs and collecting cash wired from relatives in Florida.
Some people left coastal areas for government shelters, while officials warned inhabitants of the Sierra Maestra mountains of possible mudslides.
“We have endured a lot of hurricanes here,” a man named Orlando, a property manager who feared for his investments, told CNN. “We will endure this one.”
What about the US?
The United States, taking no chances, began airlifting 700 family members of military personnel stationed at Guantanamo Bay to Florida. It’s unclear when the evacuees will return, officials said.
Base officials said remaining personnel would seek shelter in designated locations including their homes.
The US government issued a travel advisory for Americans going to Cuba, saying: “Airports will close once conditions deteriorate and safe travel is not possible. If you do not already have travel arrangements, you should immediately shelter in place in a secure location.”
On the American mainland, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency for 66 counties in the central and eastern portions of the state. Florida Gov. Rick Scott made a similar declaration for all counties.
Forecasters cautioned it was too early to predict whether Matthew would directly strike the United States.
“This dangerous storm will be closely monitored,” the National Hurricane Center said.
Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/03/americas/hurricane-matthew/index.html