At Least 100 People Dead After Hurricane Matthew Hits Haiti
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Now a look at the damage Hurricane Matthew has done to Haiti. Haitian officials are now saying that at least 260 people have been killed, and that number's expected to rise. It's a dramatic jump in deaths from what's been previously reported because only now are government workers and aid groups beginning to get access to the part of the island that was hit hardest.
NPR's Jason Beaubien is in that part of Haiti near the southern city of Les Cayes. And Jason, begin by describing the scene there.
JASON BEAUBIEN, BYLINE: You really see the impacts of this storm here. We just came through one village that was just completely turned into a debris field. I mean there were trees just everywhere, mixed in with the houses, and it was clear that the flooding had come up, you know, above the windows. It was just complete destruction in some of the villages we've passed through here.
And in that particular village, they had also taken all of the drowned pigs and brought them up by the side of the road and sort of lined them up. And there was even a person lying there - a dead person. And they're just putting their - putting them there waiting for someone to come pick them up. This place is still very much, you know, coming out of a really devastating hurricane that hit just east of here with winds of 140 miles an hour. And it just - yeah, it tore this place up.
CORNISH: Jason, you just mentioned seeing a body here. Is that - are you seeing more of that in the community?
BEAUBIEN: That is the only body that we have seen there. The expectation is that there are more people who have died. But I have to say, that's the only casualty that we have seen today.
CORNISH: How are people getting to this part of Haiti? I mean, can people get through?
BEAUBIEN: So the good news today is that people are actually able to get into this part which was the part that was hardest hit. The main road between Port au Prince and here was impassable as early as yesterday. A bridge washed out that made it really impossible to get through. And people are now just driving basically through the river that that bridge used to go over.
The water has gone down low enough that with a four-by-four people can drive through it. And so trucks and aid workers and people like that are getting through that area now. And also small planes have started to be able to fly in to some of these cities that were hardest hit. There - it's only the small planes that are getting in, but it does mean that aid workers are able to get in and get a sense of what is needed here.
CORNISH: At this point, what are the people you've talked to - what are they saying they're most concerned about now?
BEAUBIEN: So on the one hand, they're just sort of digging out right now. People are just trying to get the trees off of their houses, clear enough debris out of the way so that they can get back out to the main road. We're hearing from aid officials that they think about a million people were affected in Haiti by this. That's, you know, obviously a rough estimate. No one's done an exact census.
But in this area, they think there's about a million people who've had some sort of damage - you know, lost either their roofs or their entire houses. In some places, in some villages, it's up to 80 to 90 percent, they believe. On the island of la Gonave, which has about 120,000 people - they're estimating about 50 percent of the residences there were damaged in some way.
And also there's a huge concern right now about cholera. There was a cholera outbreak here before this happened. Cholera is in the environment. And you know, as much as two feet of water was dumped by this storm. That washed through latrines. It washed through sewage. That is now just getting spread all over the place, and people are very worried that incidents of cholera that they were seeing before - you could have a huge spike now with all of this water sort of sloshing around and people living in very sort of bare-bones ways and having to rely on water that might not be clean.
CORNISH: That's NPR's Jason Beaubien speaking to us from southern Haiti. Jason, thank you.
BEAUBIEN: You're welcome.
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