Hurricane Matthew, the former Category 4 and now Category 3 storm headed toward the East Coast, prompted the evacuation of approximately one million coastal residents in South Carolina yesterday (October 4). The storm is expected to hit the U.S. this weekend.
SC phase 1 evacuation today: Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester, Jasper, Colleton and Beaufort counties. SC phase 2 (Thurs): Horry/Georgetown.
— SCEMD (@SCEMD) October 5, 2016
Six counties in South Carolina are facing evacuations today (October 5). Two of these, Jasper and Colleton counties, have a high concentration of Black and Latinx residents. Storms in the past—like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy—have emphasized how people of color bear a disproportionate burden when natural disasters strike.
During Sandy, many public housing buildings didn’t receive power until 15 days after the storm. In New Orleans, 44 percent of Katrina storm victims were Black. In addition, fifty-five percent of displaced children were likely Black, according to the Congressional Research Service.
South Carolina is the latest state to take preparation actions against the oncoming storm. North Carolina and Florida issued state of emergencies Monday (October 3). In the Caribbean, where the hurricane has been most devastating, at least 11 people have died so far—five in Haiti, four in the Dominican Republic, one in Colombia and another in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The U.S. is home to at least 606,000 Haitian immigrants, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Most are concentrated in Florida, which Hurricane Matthew is also threatening. But the danger Florida faces is nothing like that of Haiti, which is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake that some reports say killed 316,000 people. "It’s the worst hurricane that I’ve seen during my life," Fidele Nicolas, a civil protection official in Nippes, Haiti told the Associated Press. "It destroyed schools, roads, other structures."
Hurricane Matthew is the strongest hurricane to touch the Atlantic in almost a decade. Its current maximum sustained winds are at 120 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center reports. It is expected to remain at least a Category 3 storm.
(H/t The Weather Channel)