Hurricane Mathew, the biggest storm to hit the Caribbean in almost a decade, is rumbling through the region, packing gale-force winds and posing momentous threat to three countries.
Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba are expected to suffer the brunt of the meteorological juggernaut, a Category 4 storm with winds of 240 kilometers per hour.
The hurricane has been forecast to hit Haiti late Sunday and Jamaica on Monday. The residents there have been frantically stocking up on emergency supplies, with authorities urging them to evacuate danger zones.
Civil protection officials have said Haiti would be “highly threatened.”
Albert Moulion, Haiti’s Interior Ministry spokesman, said authorities had started voluntary evacuations of residents of small, exposed sandy islands in the south as a precaution.
“The national center of emergency operations has been activated,” he said.
Meanwhile, flooding has already brought about the temporary closure of the road linking the capital Kingston to its airport.
By early Tuesday, Matthew is due to hit eastern Cuba, where the storm will potentially make a direct hit on the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay.
Unbridled deforestation has made the region susceptible to flash floods and unchecked winds in the face of such storms. Poor quality of residential structures there also poses itself as a serious disadvantage.
In several days, a burnt-out Mathew would be finally reaching the Bahamas and potentially Florida, where it is not expected to have more than a brush with the state.