Haiti

Patrick Farrell / Miami Herald

Some of Hurricane Matthew's most gut-wrenching stories are coming out of the coastal city of Jérémie on Haiti's southwest peninsula – the region hardest hit.

In Port Salut, the individual signs of the Hurricane Matthew's destruction are everywhere. A giant mango tree with its thick trunk snapped like a wishbone. A cinder block house crumpled on its foundation. But it's only as you continue to drive through this part of the coast that you see the extent of the damage. The devastation goes on and on. Hillsides are swept clean of trees. Neighborhood after neighborhood is in ruin.

Dieu Nalio Chery / AP via Miami Herald

The post-hurricane news out of Haiti took a more tragic turn Thursday – as the government announced a death toll far higher than expected. As communication is regained with Haiti’s southwest, the awful reality is more apparent.

After Hurricane Matthew tore through Haiti’s rural southern peninsula on Tuesday, the country initially reported five fatalities. But that was largely because transportation to the hardest hit areas was cut off by a major bridge wash-out.

Dieu Naleio Chery / AP via Miami Herald

The news from Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew is certainly bad – especially on Haiti’s southwest peninsula. But it's perhaps not all as bad as it could have been for the rest of the western hemisphere's poorest country.

Matthew pounded southwest Haiti on Tuesday with winds of 145 miles per hour and more than 20 inches of rain. At least five deaths have been reported there - and low-lying cities like Les Cayes suffered catastrophic flooding that’s forced 15,000 people from their homes.

Screenshot YouTube

Weather Channel Meteorologist Jen Delgado is facing sharp criticism and some are asking for her to be fired after she blamed Haiti's deforestation in part to hungry children eating trees. 

In a weather report as Hurricane Matthew prepared to make landfall in Haiti,  Delgado noted that Haiti suffers from a deforestation problem.

"They take all the trees down, they burn the trees," and she continued with a curious claim, "Even the kids there, they're so hungry, they actually eat the trees."

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET with further states of emergency in the U.S.

Hurricane Matthew crashed into southwestern Haiti as a Category 4 storm Tuesday morning, dumping rain and scouring the land with maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour.

It is the first Category 4 storm to make landfall in Haiti since 1964, when Hurricane Cleo also hit the island nation's southwestern peninsula.

Dieu Nalio Chery / Associated Press

Hurricane Matthew is making its way through the Caribbean packing Category-4 winds of more than 150 miles per hour and dropping up to 40 inches of rain. Haiti is in its path - and.that’s the country that can least absorb the damage.

Courtsey National Organization for the Advancement of Haitians

Back in July, State Department spokesman John Kirby confirmed the U.S. had “suspended its assistance toward completion of the presidential electoral process” in Haiti.

Which means: Uncle Sam is not helping to pay for the presidential election being held in Haiti this coming Sunday. Nor will it help with the likely run-off election scheduled for January.

Other international donors, like Canada, have also cut off election aid. Simply put, they’re fed up with Haiti’s political leaders.

Archive Photo / Associated Press

The U.S. Department of Homeland and Security has a warning to undocumented Haitians en route to its southwestern border with Mexico — turn around. Otherwise, you will be deported back to Haiti.

At the Mirebalais Hospital in Haiti's central plateau, Dr. Louise Ivers and Dr. Roman Jean-Louis are examining a baby girl who was born in early July with microcephaly, a smaller-than-normal skull often associated with Zika infections.

The baby, named Chinashama, is dressed in a white smock adorned with small flowers. Her legs cross unnaturally over her shins, and her mother, Chrisnette Sainvilus, says the baby cries a lot and has trouble passing stool. "Day and night she's crying," the mother of two says. It's unclear what physical and mental problems Chinashama is facing.

Katie Lepri / WLRN

On game days, the boys’ soccer team at Miami-Edison Senior High speaks Haitian Creole during huddles. Fans play Haitian carnival music, known as Rara, with drums and horns in the stands.

The school is smack-dab in the middle of Little Haiti, with a student body that, in many cases, is just beginning to master English. “When I took the program over,” says Gomez Laleau, who started coaching there in 2004, “99 percent of them were like Haitian-descent kids and college was not part of the discussion.”

 

Protestors gathered Friday in Stuart near the private land visited by Senator Marco Rubio during his tour viewing areas hit by the algae.
Jill Roberts

This week on The Florida Roundup...

New details are emerging about the horror inside the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando. Transcripts of police communications also raise questions about the  law enforcement response. Why is it important to understand the police decisions involved, and what do these records indicate?

Listen here: 

Bureau of International Narcotics & Law Enforcement

Miami-Dade County’s population is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan. And its police force reflects that.

In 2012, the State Department decided to put that diversity to use beyond our borders. State recruited Miami-Dade police to help train and build law enforcement in Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica and even Egypt. Federal officials say it worked out so well that this week they re-upped the Miami-Dade force for another five years.

Carl Juste / IrisPhoto Collective

Former Haitian President Michel Martelly has returned to his pre-political life as pop singer “Sweet Micky.” He's performing at Cafe Iguana in Pembroke Pines tonight and at Miami's Bayfront Park on Saturday.

But last night he had a literary gig: presenting his just published memoir, "Michel Martelly Autobiographie," at Miami-Dade College in a Haitian Flag Day event sponsored by the Miami Book Fair.

Screengrab via presidentofkompa.com / WLRN

For the third time, Haiti has missed a deadline for its delayed presidential election runoff.

While Haiti is facing intense political pressure to get a president in office by May. 14, the island-nation's most recent president, Michel Martelly, seems to have moved on from the political spotlight  and back into the entertainment spotlight.

Before being elected president of Haiti in 2011, he was better known as  “Sweet Micky” --a Haitian musical superstar who wore wigs and had a penchant for dropping his pants during performances.

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