Potentially 'catastrophic' hurricane bears down on Haiti; may hit U.S. Thursday
LES CAYES, Haiti - - Hurricane Matthew headed for Haiti on Monday, where towns and villages braced for "catastrophic" floods and mudslides that forecasters fear will be triggered by 140 mile-per-hour winds and up to 3 feet of rain over its denude...
LES CAYES, Haiti - - Hurricane Matthew headed for Haiti on Monday, where towns and villages braced for "catastrophic" floods and mudslides that forecasters fear will be triggered by 140 mile-per-hour winds and up to 3 feet of rain over its denuded hills.
The storm is now forecast to reach the Bahamas on Tuesday and possibly reach Florida by Thursday as a major hurricane, though weaker than at present, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Before that, it will hit Cuba.
"It has the potential of being catastrophic," said Dennis Feltgen, a meteorologist and spokesman for the Miami-based hurricane center, when asked about Matthew's expected impact on Haiti.
Haitian Interior Minister Francois Anick Joseph said 30,000 people were in areas of risk who should be moved before the storm hits.
However, in Haiti's largest slum, the seaside Cite Soleil in capital Port-au-Prince, Mayor Frederic Hislain said 150,000 people whose homes he said were threatened needed to be bussed to safer places.
"Those people are living all along the seashore in a bunch of huts which usually can't even really protect them from ordinary rain. Now we are talking about a strong hurricane. Imagine the disaster we may have to face here."
Many people are reluctant to leave their homes due to fears their belonging will be stolen.
Matthew, one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in recent history, was expected to hit Haiti Monday night, the U.S. hurricane center said. It is expected to bring between 15 and 40 inches of rain to parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Crawling north at just 7 miles per hour, the storm threatens to linger enough for its winds and rain to cause great damage. Haiti is prone to flash floods and mudslides because most of its hillsides have been stripped bare by people cutting down trees to make charcoal to sell for fuel.