Hurricane Matthew barreled toward Florida’s east coast Thursday after leaving a trail of destruction in Haiti, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic. Here’s what we know about this deadly and extremely dangerous hurricane:
– HAITI –
The storm killed at least 108 people in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, with the final toll expected to be much higher.
The storm caused “catastrophic” damage, crushing bridges, forcing rivers to overflow and blowing roofs apart, officials said.
More than 29,000 homes were destroyed in the hard-hit Sud department alone, and more than 20,000 people have been displaced, the local authorities said as they assessed the damage on Thursday.
Haiti’s southern city of Jeremie suffered “complete destruction,” with 80 percent of the buildings leveled, relief agencies said.
Some 350,000 people need assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
– CUBA –
No casualties were reported, but officials described severe damage to the historic town of Baracoa, the first Spanish settlement on the island (founded in 1511).
Two other eastern towns, Maisi and Imias, remain cut off in the storm’s aftermath.
– DOMINICAN REPUBLIC –
The hurricane killed at least four people — three of them children — and injured one in the Dominican Republic.
Some 28 people were rescued from rooftops or trees.
More than 36,500 people were evacuated, and 3,000 homes destroyed, flooded or damaged.
– BAHAMAS –
Officials issued a hurricane warning for the northwestern Bahamas at 2100 GMT Thursday as Matthew’s eye moved over Freeport, battering the islands with winds of 140 miles (220 kilometers) per hour.
Witnesses said roads were littered with fallen palm trees and smashed fences. Utility lines were down as heavy rains doused business districts and windows shattered in some coastal hotels.
Storm surges and high waves could raise water levels as high as 15 feet (4.5 meters).
Live images from Nassau showed a toppled gas station and rivers of water in the streets.
– UNITED STATES –
From the Bahamas, Matthew churned in a northwestern direction toward central Florida, with “potentially disastrous impacts,” including life-threatening floods expected in the next 36 hours, the National Hurricane Center said.
The authorities gave some three million people along the US southeast coast urgent evacuation orders.
According to the forecast track, the hurricane could make landfall near Cape Canaveral, where NASA’s Kennedy Space Center is located, by Friday morning, bringing destructive winds and storm surges as high as 11 feet (3.3 meters) in some areas.
Hurricane conditions are expected to begin Thursday evening in Florida’s warning area, which extends from north of Golden Beach up the state’s east coast. Tropical storm conditions were forecast for Miami.
Florida Governor Rick Scott warned residents to expect widespread power outages, and nearly 20,000 people statewide had lost power by Thursday evening.
Some 3,500 National Guard troops were activated to assist with shelters and evacuation orders.
Miami’s airport canceled hundreds of flights and the Fort Lauderdale airport shut down on Thursday morning. Popular theme parks, including Disney World, were closed Thursday evening and Friday.