By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, MIAMI, FL, Mon. Oct. 3, 2016: The USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance yesterday deployed two disaster response teams to Haiti and Jamaica as Hurricane Matthew threatened to create serious damage to Haiti, Cuba and Jamaica.
The announcement comes as the National Hurricane Center’s forecast at 11 p.m. last night showed Hurricane Matthew 255 miles south, south east of Kingston and 325 miles south west of Haiti. On this forecast track, the NHC said the center of Matthew will approach Jamaica and southwestern Haiti on Monday and into Tuesday.
The storm was already packing winds of 145 mph and the USAID said in anticipation of the need, it has already strategically pre-positioned emergency relief supplies — including shelter materials, blankets, hygiene kits, household items, and water purification equipment — to ensure they are available to help any affected communities post Matthew.
The announcement comes as Jamaicans last evening began feeling the tropical storm effects of Hurricane Matthew. Its approach came with darkening of the sky above the country late yesterday afternoon as well as the appearance of what looked like a funnel cloud over the sea in Negril. Rain also began falling over the island steadily into yesterday evening leading to early flooding on some roads in Kingston. A landslide in the Mount Industry district of Glengoffe, St. Catherine was also reported resulting in the partial blockage of the road as the government opened several shelters in St. Andrew and Kingston and announced the closure of schools for today and possibly Tuesday. All Jamaicans living in low lying and flood prone communities were being urged to heed any evacuation warnings issued for Hurricane Matthew yesterday as all flights out of the Sangster International Airport were cancelled for today.
In Haiti, de facto President Jocelerme Privert announced the closure of schools for Monday and Tuesday, but said State offices will remain open. Schools will serve as shelters. The areas set to be most affected are the South, Grande Anse, Nippes, South East, West, and North West of Haiti.
The storm comes as the International Organization for Migration (IOM) through its Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) implemented since July 2010, reveals in its latest report dated 30 September 2016, that 14,593 household or 55,107 people (Internally Displaced persons (IDPs)) are still living in camps and/or hosting sites in Haiti, Haiti Libre reports.
In Cuba, Cuban President Raul Castro visited Santiago de Cuba on Saturday to oversee preparations, Cuban TV footage showed. A hurricane warning is in effect for yjr Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Granma, and Las Tunas.
Matthew is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 15 to 25 inches across southern Haiti and the southwestern portion of the Dominican Republic, with possible isolated amounts of 40 inches.
Across eastern Cuba and western Haiti, total rain accumulations of 8 to 12 inches are expected with possible isolated maximum amounts of 20 inches while across eastern Jamaica, total rainfall of 5 to 10 inches is expected, with isolated maximum amounts of 15 inches possible.
This rainfall will likely produce life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.
Meanwhile, the Government of the Bahamas has issued a Hurricane Warning for the Southeastern Bahamas and a Hurricane Watch for the Central Bahamas while a Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for yjr Dominican Republic from Barahona westward and from Puerto Plata westward to the border with Haiti.
In the Jamaican and Haitian Diaspora, many took to social media to send prayers to nationals in their home countries.