It’s difficult to determine the number of casualties from the storm in Haiti after a key bridge was washed out, roads became impassable and phone communication was cut off from Haiti’s hardest-hit areas, but major damage has been reported, according to the AP.
“It’s the worst hurricane that I’ve seen during my life,” Fidele Nicolas, a civil protection official in Nippes, told AP. “It destroyed schools, roads, other structures.”
According to Haiti Libre, 14,530 people have been displaced, 2,703 families are affected and 1,885 houses are flooded.
After a request for aid from Haiti, the United States deployed the U.S.S.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.
Tuesday evening, President de facto Jocelerme Privert said he and other government officials would be traveling to southwest Haiti to assess the damage.
“Tomorrow morning (Wednesday) as soon as weather permits it and the roads are re-opened the Government, ministers, the Prime Minister, the President, everyone in the State will travel around all the places in the country that are disaster to assess the damage, to provide answers that the circumstances require,” Privert said.
Major flooding was reported in several southern towns, including Petit Goave, where the Ladigue Bridge collapsed Tuesday, isolating southwest Haiti from the rest of the country, reports Haiti Libre.
“The river has overflowed all around us,” church pastor Louis St. Germain told CNN. “It’s terrible… a total disaster.”
A civil protection worker, left, asks residents to evacuate the area near the Grise river, prior the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, in Tabarre, Haiti, Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. The center of Hurricane Matthew is expected to pass near or over southwestern Haiti on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
Marie Alta Jean-Baptiste, director of the Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency, said Tuesday that information was slow to come from the areas most affected.
“It’s much too early to know how bad things are but we do know there are a lot of houses that have been destroyed or damaged in the south,” Jean-Baptiste told the AP.
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Much of the local population were forced from their homes and at least 10,000 people were in shelters and hospitals, U.N. secretary-general’s deputy special representative for Haiti Mourad Wahba told AP. The refuge facilities became crowded and began running short of water. The roof was blown off the hospital in the city of Les Cayes.
Wahba called the hurricane’s destruction the “largest humanitarian event” in Haiti since the devastating earthquake of January 2010.
Officials have warned that the death toll could climb.
“We’ve already seen deaths. People who were out at sea. There are people who are missing. They are people who didn’t respect the alerts. They’ve lost their lives,” Interim Haitian President Jocelerme Privert said at a news conference Tuesday, reports CNN.
A woman protects herself from the rain with a piece of plastic prior the arrival of Hurricane Matthew, in Tabarre, Haiti, Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)
Les Cayes was reportedly underwater after being inundated by the storm, which is being blamed for triggering landslides, AFP reports.
“We have already recorded a landslide between Les Cayes and Tiburon in Haiti’s Sud department,” director of civil protection Marie-Alta Jean-Baptise told AFP.
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In Les Cayes and the Valley of Jacmel, several homes lost roofs, Haiti Libre reports. In Nippes, dozens of homes were severely damaged and others were swept away by raging flood waters.
Haitian Sen. Nenel Cassy told the Miami Herald “the situation in the Nippes [region] is truly catastrophic.”
“The amount of rain we’re seeing accumulate is enormous,” the assistant director of the aid organization CARE in Haiti, Laura Sewell, told NPR Tuesday morning. Speaking from Port-au-Prince, she said she had heard informal reports of mudslides elsewhere in the country.
“What we’re looking at here is a lot of flooding,” said Sewell. “Haiti is very mountainous so there’s a good chance of landslides and mudslides.”