The Haitian government has not yet been able fully assess the damage because most of the affected areas have been cut off.
Haitian President Jocelerme Privert and other senior members of his administration will personally assess the damage when the weather permits them to tour the stricken areas.
The U.S. Agency for International Development’s Dave Herman said the U.S. government is initially working «very diligently» with the Catholic Relief Services and the Red Cross to ensure relief aid is distributed to the most vulnerable in Haiti. Harden said relief efforts are focused on water and sanitation to help prevent the spread of cholera.
President Barack Obama on Wednesday urged people to help the hurricane victims in Haiti by donating to the USAID Center for International Disaster Information (www.cidi.org). “Find out how you can help make life a little bit easier for those who didn’t have a lot to begin with,” Obama said.
Haiti’s isolated disaster zone is in the southern part of the island nation. The area was cut off when the only bridge connecting it to the rest of the country was swept away by high winds and heavy rainfall.
Communications with the damaged region are nonexistent due to downed telephone lines and mobile phone outages, making it difficult for authorities and emergency workers to determine the extent of the damage.
VOA Creole reporter Jean-Hernst Eliscar says many houses in the southern city of Les Cayes are flooded and have no roofs.
Mourad Wahba, U.N. deputy special representative for Haiti, said in a statement Tuesday that Hurricane Matthew has caused the biggest humanitarian crisis in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake, which killed more than 225,000 people. He said at least 10,000 people are in shelters.
Hurricane Matthew, the most powerful Caribbean storm in nearly a decade, is churning toward the Bahamas Wednesday after inflicting a trail of death and destruction on Haiti and Cuba.
At least 10 people have been killed in Haiti and its neighboring country, the Dominican Republic.
Matthew was a powerful Category 4 storm when it slammed into Haiti Tuesday with winds of 230 kilometers per hour and fierce rain. It was the first time in 52 years that a Category 4 storm made landfall in Haiti.
Hurricane Matthew also stormed through a sparsely populated tip of Cuba Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. There were no immediate reports of deaths, but dozens of homes were destroyed and hundreds of others damaged in Cuba’s easternmost city of Baracoa.
The National Hurricane Center in Miami calls Matthew «extremely dangerous” and predicts it will remain a «powerful storm» at least through Thursday.
The storm weakened slightly after making landfall in Haiti and Cuba, downgrading to a Category Three storm with sustained winds of 201 kilometers, but is expected to regain momentum as it barrels toward Florida’s southeastern coast. Matthew is expected to make landfall along the U.S. east coast later this week.
Florida, Georgia, South Carolina brace for storm
Southeastern U.S. states, including Florida, are preparing for Matthew’s arrival with orders to evacuate and school closures.
After a briefing from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, President Obama said citizens and emergency officials should “hope for the best but we want to prepare for the worst” and warned coastal residents that “now is the time for you to prepare in the event you have to evacuate.” Obama canceled a planned trip to Florida this week due to the storm
Florida Governor Rick Scott has begun mandatory evacuations in Broward County and warned other coastline residents not to wait for evacuation orders. «This is a dangerous storm and it is never too early to evacuate.» Scott has activated 500 National Guardsmen and has 6,000 others on standby to help with search and rescue efforts.
Georgia Governor Nathan Deal has declared states of emergency in 13 coastal counties. Public schools have been closed in the coastal Georgia city of Savannah.
South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced plans to begin evacuating a quarter million residents Wednesday afternoon and warned more than 1 million others to prepare to evacuate. She said if the track of the hurricane does not change by Wednesday, she will issue an evacuation order for people to move away from the coast.
Matthew is the strongest hurricane to tear through the Atlantic and Caribbean Sea since Hurricane Felix in 2007.
VOA’s Creole Service contributed to this report