With the beginning of October comes the beginning of the fall season, when many Americans welcome colorful leaves, cooler temperatures, and "scarf weather." But despite the changing of seasons, hurricane season has not gone anywhere. This weekend, millions of people in the United States and Caribbean were forced to evacuate their homes and find shelter due to Hurricane Matthew — a Category 4 storm. The storm's damage was and continues to be devastating as the Hurricane Matthew death toll rises in the United States and the Caribbean.
Update: According to ABC News, as of Sunday evening, authorities have raised the U.S. death toll to 21, 1.7 million without power.
Hurricane Matthew first hit the Caribbean on Thursday, where it left incredible damage in its wake, according to CNN. The storm ripped the roofs off of homes, destroyed roads, and caused cities and villages to flood. Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti, the Bahamas, and parts of Cuba before making its way to the southeastern United States. Hurricane Matthew hit Florida first on Friday night and made its way up the coast throughout the weekend. Before it reached land, Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina governors urged their residents to evacuate to a place where the storm could not reach them.
"There is no reason not to leave," Florida Gov. Rick Scott said on Thursday. "Do not surf. Do not go to the beach. This storm will kill you." As clean up crews and first responders assess the damage caused by the hurricane, the death toll in the states as well as the Caribbean islands continue to rise astronomically, as both Scott and so many others predicted.
"We do not know the exact number; We cannot find all the people," Haitian Senator Herve Fourcand told CNN. But the death toll is expected to rise, as more people in rural villages are being treated for broken bones and injuries related to the hurricane. According to Al Jazeera, at least seven people have died of cholera, which is caused by drinking water becoming contaminated with sewage. CNN reporters noted that the hurricane flattened homes and "cut off parts of the island" in Haiti, and is the country's "worst humanitarian crisis" since the 2010 earthquake.
In other parts of the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic reported that four people died due to the storm. Another teenage boy died in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and one person died in Columbia. There were no reported injuries in the Bahamas as of Friday night and no reported deaths in Cuba as of Thursday. However, this numbers are all subject to change as authorities assess the damage and locate missing people.
The United States
Hurricane Matthew's landfall in the United States resulted in record-breaking flooding. According to ABC News, 19 people have died in the United States from the hurricane. Eight people died in North Carolina, along with four in Georgia, six in Florida, and one in South Carolina. The hurricane took down hundreds of trees and power lines as well, forcing roads to close and travel to become limited. Even now, after the storm has passed, people are still helpless because of the devastation left in its wake. According to ABC News, over 2.2 million people are still without power in the southeast and standing water remains in homes.
As of Sunday, Hurricane Matthew has been reduced to a tropical storm and is expected to only bring rain as it moves further out to sea. However, the destruction it has caused has left a lasting impact on those in the Caribbean and the southeastern United States — and at least for the time being, putting the pieces back together will likely take a mammoth effort.