The aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

Photo courtesy of New York Daily News

by Alison Duplisea

The residents of the Southeast Region of the United States did not go into this holiday weekend in high spirits. As of Friday afternoon, Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas were in a state of emergency address, causing 1.5 million people in the state of Florida to be evacuated, along with hundreds of thousands in the Carolinas and Georgia. Hurricane Matthew was coming in as a Category 4 hurricane, and it was coming fast.

The hurricane did not start in Florida. Th e eye of the storm hit Haiti as a category 4 on Tuesday. According to Haitian Ambassador, Paul Altidor, 1,000 deaths have been reported. “We expect unfortunately that number to rise a little bit as we begin to access communities, regions that were inaccessible because of the roads, because of the bridges that fell due to the hurricane,” Altidor told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. Th e 125 mph winds destroyed homes and the fl ooding is catastrophic. Th e focus in Haiti right now is just to reach the victims which will be hard to do because the bridges connecting the worst affected areas to the capital have collapsed. Over 350 military personnel are now in Haiti assisting with the disaster.

Hurricane Matthew was not done there. It made its way up the coast of Florida with winds above 100 mph, making it a category 3 hurricane. Even as the water levels started rising and the winds started picking up, officials stated that some people refused to evacuate. Th e hurricane continued to hug the coast but as it got closer it did not hit as hard as people were anticipating. Even still, there is major damage throughout the state. Sea wall barriers were destroyed and the streets are filled with water. Over 1 million people are now without power in Florida, and state authorities have recorded four deaths related to the storm. Nancy Shaver, the mayor of St. Augustine, said, “The flooding is just going to get higher and higher and higher.” As they now begin to assess the damage, officials are saying that there will be a lot of houses that will never be the same again, if they are even still there.

As the hurricane moves up the coast it has decreased to a category 1 hurricane but that still means winds up to 85 mph. Georgia and the Carolinas were evacuated, but nothing can prepare them for the flooding and winds that they experienced. The biggest threat to North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia is the fl ash flooding that will ensue even now, two days aft er the storm. Georgia Governor stated that he thinks this will be the worst flooding the state has seen since Hurricane Floyd in 1999. North Carolina is also having record breaking floods and a tragic 17 deaths due to the storm. “Th is storm is still impacting people in a big way,” said Gov. Pat McCrory, who surveyed hurricane damage on Monday in Fayetteville. “You have to see it to believe all the devastation that occurred.” Th e damage is not over yet. Over the next week damage is expected to increase throughout the state. Even those who evacuated the sea coast are trapped inland because of the magnitude of flooding that has taken place. “I want to emphasize to everybody that this is still a really dangerous hurricane,” Obama said during remarks in the Oval Office after he met with the heads of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Department of Homeland Security.

There is no word as to when the state of emergency will be over and when people will be able to return to their homes, or even fi nd out if they have a home to return to. This hurricane has been devastating and it will take months to rebuild and recover. Obama is urgently asking American citizens to donate to the American Red Cross so they can help not only residents of Florida, Georgia, and the Carolinas, but also the people of Haiti.