Hurricane Matthew: More than 300 dead in Southern Haiti

Harrowing Hurricane Matthew reports emerge from Bahamas as President Obama declares a state of emergency in Georgia

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Hurricane Matthew killed more than 300 people as it smashed through southern Haiti, a senator from the region said Thursday. Senator Herve Fourcand said that figure is still preliminary, as some areas hit by the powerful storm are still inaccessible.

Haiti’s southern peninsula was the hardest hit by the storm. Fourcand disputed the official toll given by the government so far, which was 122. Earlier, Radio Television Caraibes put the toll nationwide at 264.

Harrowing Bahamas

Meanwhile, Hurricane Matthew’s blast through the Bahamas brought harrowing reports of roofs blown off, windows shattering and water rising perilously, including a social-media post from one desperate resident who said, “I’m on a chest of drawers. Phone battery low.”

But there were no reports of fatalities from the National Emergency Management Agency. After the storm passed and headed northwest towards Florida, residents emerged from their homes to assess the damage, which was not as bad as expected.

Many buildings had roof damage, but the integrity of the roofs and buildings had not been compromised. Storm surges from Matthew caused several feet of water to come inland but flooding stopped short of entering homes. Roads were littered with downed power lines and trees. Some were impassable.

Emergency in Georgia

President Barack Obama has declared a state of emergency in Georgia on Thursday, adding it to the states of Florida and South Carolina as being eligible for federal hurricane relief.

He ordered federal aid to supplement state and local efforts, authorizing the Homeland Security Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief as Hurricane Matthew bore down on the US coast.