As the largest storm in a decade nears Florida, the Caribbean starts to dig out. - Grist

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Hurricane Matthew

As the largest storm in a decade nears Florida, the Caribbean starts to dig out.

Hurricane Matthew smashed Haiti particularly hard this week, bringing high winds and rainfall of up to 40 inches in some areas. The death toll, as Reuters reports, is well over 500, and hundreds of thousands of homes have been damaged. Food supplies and potable water are in short supply, and up to 80 percent of crops in some regions have been destroyed. The government says 350,000 people need urgent aid, and tens of thousands remain in shelters. Public health officials fear a rise in cholera cases on island, which was introduced to the nation by U.N. peacekeepers in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, which Haiti is still recovering from.

Matthew also slammed Jamaica, Cuba, the Bahamas, and the Dominican Republic before turning northward. While the islands of the Caribbean are not major producers of greenhouse gases, they are especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to their size, elevation, remoteness, and concentration of infrastructure along coastlines. And those effects include both sea-level rise and stronger, more damaging hurricanes — hurricanes that look like Matthew.

A girl cries as she stays with her relatives at a partially destroyed school after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins - RTSQYA4
A girl cries as she stays with her relatives at a partially destroyed school after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti, Oct. 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins 

People walk down the streets next to destroyed houses after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTSQY4P
People walk down the streets next to destroyed houses after Hurricane Matthew passes Jeremie, Haiti, Oct. 5, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins 

A woman carries a tin sheet after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, October 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares - RTSQYAD
A woman carries a tin sheet after Hurricane Matthew in Les Cayes, Haiti, Oct. 5, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares 

A woman carries a laundry basket in an area devastated by Hurricane Matthew in Cavaillon, Haiti, October 6, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares - RTSR4LS
A woman carries a laundry basket in an area devastated by Hurricane Matthew in Cavaillon, Haiti, Oct. 6, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares