Evacuations are already underway in Florida and South Carolina
Hurricane Matthew, the most powerful Caribbean hurricane in a decade, has already slammed into Haiti, Cuba, Bahamas and now threatens the southeastern United States.
The storm is the first hurricane to reach Category 5 status since Hurricane Felix in 2007, but has since weakened to a Category 4 storm. Winds have reached 145 mph, creating huge waves, flying debris and coastal erosion, while leaving many homeless in its wake.
The National Hurricane Center predicts, Matthew will stray close to the Florida coast and potentially make landfall on Thursday evening as a Category 3 storm.
Because of the storm’s potential strength, Florida Governor Rick Scott is urging coastal residents to evacuate before Matthew makes landfall. South Carolina has also begun evacuating residents ahead of the storm’s Saturday arrival.
The storm has killed 11 people so far, but that number is expected to rise. In Haiti, the storm has displaced thousands of people and created a looming humanitarian disaster, USA Today reports. About 55,000 people still live in shelters after the 2010 earthquake, many in tents and other precarious dwellings that are susceptible to flood waters. Adding to the problem, Haiti’s deforested mountainsides are at risk of landslides during and after the downpour, The New York Times reports.
Haiti reportedly reached out to the United States for help and U.S. Southern Command has sent troops and helicopters to aid in the relief effort.
An image of the storm as a grinning skull has lit up the internet after a senior meteorologist at the Weather Channel tweeted the picture of Matthew using an infrared camera lens to accentuate certain parts of the tropical cyclone.
If you want to do your part to help there are a number of relief agencies on the ground, organizations like the International Red Cross, Mercy Corps, UNICEF, World Vision and the Salvation Army are said to be mobilizing forces to help those in need.