By Justin Cohen, News Staff Writer
Posted 10:30 PM EST, Thurs., Oct. 13, 2016
“We do not know the exact number, we cannot find all the people,” said Haitian senator Senator Hervé Foucand in an interview with CNN. Relief workers fear the death toll will only increase as they work towards clearing some of the harder hit areas.
The tropical cyclone struck the peninsula with 145 mph (233 kph) winds and heavy rains, sweeping cattle and tearing away parts of the islands. One survivor in the village of Chantal, Jean-Pierre Jean-Donald told Reuters a tree swept up by the hurricane landed on and destroyed his house, killing his wife in the process.
“The entire house fell on us. I couldn’t get out,” Jean-Donald said. “People came to lift the rubble, and then we saw my wife, who had died.”
The main road connecting the nation’s capital to the southern coast has also been destroyed. An aid worker, Kate Corrigan, reported to the BBC that some small towns are completely inaccessible.
“What we’ve seen thus far has been a fairly large-spread destruction in the south, potentially at points of 90 percent destruction in some of locations — complete destruction,” Corrigan said.
Technological infrastructures have also been decimated: Communication is made extremely difficult by downed power lines and extremely limited cellular reception.
The U.S. Navy is offering aid in the form of the USS Mesa Verde ship, as well as nine helicopters to drop food and water to the areas that have been hit the hardest.
In addition to the immediate destruction, Matthew could have worsened the cholera epidemic that killed 10,000 people in 2010, which has since allegedly said to have been spread by foreign aid volunteers. The disease infects from food and water sources contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, and has the power to kill within hours if handled improperly.
“Cholera is the biggest problem right now,” Fourcand said. “We need clean water, the water here is so dirty.”
According to United Nations officials, Matthew has been the worst humanitarian crisis to strike Haiti since the earthquake killed 200,000 people back in January 2010.