Hurricane Matthew to have devastating impact in Haiti, NHC director says

Storm to bring heavy rainfall even after it emerges back over water

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Hurricane Matthew will continue to have a devastating impact on Haiti, even after it made landfall Tuesday morning, National Hurricane Center Director Rick Knabb said.

Knabb said the storm is about to emerge back over water, but there will still be heavy rainfall that is likely to cause flash floods and mudslides, along with strong winds and storm surges.

Local 10 News photojournalist Ismael Louis is in Port-au-Prince, where he said it rained nonstop on Tuesday.

"It's been raining all day nonstop. It's windy," Louis said. "The rain has been coming down really, really heavy, and we still see people walking around and having fun in the rain. I don't think they're taking this hurricane too seriously."

Louis said the reaction to the storm from locals has been mixed.

"Some people are panicking and some people are just looking around to see if their property is damaged," Louis said. "Some people are just standing around looking at the water rising. Some people are just going about like it's a normal day, but everything is closed here on the island (nation)."

Louis said government officials are trying to contact those in need of help through a local radio station. He said officials have been broadcasting all morning on the radio asking people to call if they need emergency responders sent to their area.

Radio stations have also been helping people get in contact with relatives across the island, where more damage was reported.

"There's damage. There's trees down and debris all over the streets in Port-au-Prince, Haiti," Louis said. "As we're driving, we see the water coming from over the main road in Haiti. So there's a lot of damage out here."

Kettyna Bellabe, the joint mayor of Port-au-Prince, told Local 10 News that a lot of people have not been compliant with the government's request to evacuate.

"All of our rivers are going up, however people are staying in," Bellabe said. "There is little life you can see in the street. We are still in the prevention mode, where we are asking people to evacuate. To go to a friend's house or a relative's house in order to stay higher up on the mountain as possible."

While many people have yet to evacuate, Bellabe said more residents have requested assistance to evacuate after Tuesday's storm.

She said officials are especially trying to help elderly people, children and pregnant women evacuate, but will assist anyone who wishes to move.

The hurricane is heading to eastern Cuba, but Knabb said the island's mountains aren't expected to have much effect on the storm.

A high-pressure ridge is nudging Matthew toward Florida and blocking its path due north from the Bahamas.

About the Authors: