A First Look as Haiti Emerges from Hurricane Matthew

As the category 4 storm barrels north across the Caribbean, photographs show the destruction in its wake.

Days after Hurricane Matthew pummeled Haiti with 145 mile-per-hour winds and drenching rain, local authorities say that the full scope of the disaster is still unclear. (See dramatic lightning sprites dance over Hurricane Matthew.)

What is already evident, however, is that the Category 4 hurricane, which struck Haiti on October 4, has leveled another blow of destruction on an island nation still reeling from the 2010 earthquake and a subsequent cholera crisis.

"Haiti was already struggling, so it doesn't have a lot of capacity to respond to the hurricane," says Andrew McConnell, a photojournalist who is on the scene. "Yet it may take the brunt of it."

Haitian officials have reported more than one hundred deaths so far, yet little information has emerged from the southern department of Grand-Anse, near the point where Matthew made landfall. Communications in Grand-Anse have been knocked out, and roads in the area remain impassible, according to the Associated Press.

In addition, the La Digue Bridge, which serves as the primary link between the capital of Port-au-Prince and the stricken southern areas of the country, collapsed during the storm.

The situation on the ground is quite chaotic, says McConnell. "Rivers are swollen, lots of trees are down, and people’s homes have been destroyed," he says. "People are being carried on motorbikes and on others' backs."

Hospitals are overflowing and many people are seeking temporary shelter, with few options.

Hurricane Matthew is currently battering the Bahamas with 125 mile-per-hour winds and is expected to hit the southeastern United States tomorrow as the first major hurricane in a decade.

As the world's attention shifts toward the northern track of the storm, McConnell says he hopes people don't forget about Haiti. "They are likely to need a lot of assistance in the coming days," he says. "I hope my photos help show that."

The bridge over the La Digue River served as a critical connection between the capital and the worst-hit southwestern peninsula of the island. It collapsed during the Category-4 hurricane.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW MCCONNELL, PANOS FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

With the bridge gone, residents of Petit Goave attempt to ford the La Digue River. Emergency responders are still unable to reach Haiti's stricken southwestern peninsula.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW MCCONNELL, PANOS FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

A man salvages bananas from his plantation in the coastal commune of Leogane. At least 23 deaths have been reported in Haiti and the number is expected to rise.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW MCCONNELL, PANOS FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC


Hatians negotiate the damage left behind by Hurricane Matthew, making their way across the La Digue River after a critical bridge collapsed in the storm.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW MCCONNELL, PANOS FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

A boy crosses a swollen river beside destroyed banana trees in Leogane. The island nation was still recovering from a devastating earthquake in 2010 when the hurricane hit on Tuesday.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW MCCONNELL, PANOS FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Lumis Sayafey, 60, stands in front of her flooded home in Leogane, 18 miles west of Port-au-Prince. Compared to the destruction in the southern part of the country, the area around the capital escaped major damage.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW MCCONNELL, PANOS FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC


Hurricane Matthew's 145-mile-per-hour winds and lashing rains carved away large parts of the banks of Haiti's La Digue River.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANDREW MCCONNELL, PANOS FOR NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
By Kristin Romey

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