By Melissa Ruby, National News Writer
Hurricane Matthew has come and gone, but the devastation left in its path is still very much a reality for those who endured it earlier this month. Among the states hit the hardest by Hurricane Matthew were North Carolina and Florida, though Georgia and South Carolina have also had to deal with extreme destruction in the wake of the storm.
Haiti and Cuba also experienced the wrath of such a powerful storm, which made landfall there on October 4 and 5.
North Carolina suffered an estimated $1.5 billion loss, as well as 26 deaths. The 26 casualties account for nearly all United States’ deaths attributed to Hurricane Matthew. U.S. deaths totaled 30, with four occurring in Florida.
Between the storm surge and flooding rivers, North Carolina faced horrific damage. According to UPO News, nearly 100,000 buildings experienced damage, including the Lieutenant Governor’s home. Nearly 2,521 people remained without electricity a week after the storm passed, but this represented some good news, as nearly 800,000 had been without power during the brunt of the storm Reuters reported.
In addition to power outages, thousands remained displaced and hundreds of roads remained closed, even as the second week passed by. Much of the problems in North Carolina were caused by flooding, which were expected to remain at flood levels for nearly two and a half weeks.
Florida also suffered tremendous losses as a result of Hurricane Matthew. Hundreds of business were damaged along Florida’s eastern coast line. According to Sunshine State News, property damage resulting from Hurricane Matthew is estimated to exceed $218 million, with anticipation that this number will climb higher in the coming weeks. Tens of thousands of Floridians have already filed claims for damaged cars, houses, and business.
Governor Rick Scott of Florida called upon President Obama to issue a Major Disaster Declaration, an act that would make Florida eligible to receive funds for both emergency and permanent work, providing much needed assistance for the overwhelmed state. In an effort to rebuild Florida’s hardest hit areas, Gov. Scott traveled to St. Augustine, FL (the oldest city in the United States) to encourage resumption of tourism. This town—the oldest city in the United States—as well as many others in the vicinity, relies on the tourist industry, but were severely damaged in the storm. However, many business are up and running again, and looking for customers.
In both Florida and North Carolina, the damage has been immense, but economists surmise that though much has been lost, the economies of affected states will boom back.
Insurance Business reports that “according to Goldman Sachs, natural disasters often have offsetting economic effects…It suggests that disasters such as this often lead to short-term declines—but that these are followed by demand and output often rebounding to even greater levels with recovery and rebuilding efforts stimulating the economy.” The hope is that, even though Hurricane Matthew has caused between $4 to $6 billion in damages across effected states, those states will make a comeback in the rebuilding process.
Comparatively speaking, however, the devastation that the United States has faced due to the storm pales in comparison to the problems that face Haiti. Haiti, one of the hardest hit locations over which the storm passed, lost anywhere between 500 and 1000 lives due to the storm. Numbers are somewhat conflicting because all areas have not yet been searched. However, the official death toll stands as 546 dead, as of October 21st, according to ABC News. In addition to a tremendous loss of life, Haiti, in great poverty and still reeling from the 2010 earthquake, now faces new threats due to the storm: cholera and famine. CBC reports that “the hurricane’s effect on the food supply was threefold: crops for food, crops for income, and livestock have all been devastated.” Trees, vegetation, farms, livestock, all these have been destroyed as a result of the storm.
According to CBC, some estimate that it will take 3 years to return to normal and meanwhile, a country which used to produce 80 percent of their own food, will have to import around 80 percent.
As a result of both sickness and the threat of famine, the U.N. and other organizations have appealed to the world to not forget Haiti in their time of crisis.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, October 25th print edition.
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