Hurricane Matthew Threatens Caribbean Islands, Prompting Evacuation of Non-Essential Guantanamo Personnel

By Yessenia Funes Oct 03, 2016

Hurricane Matthew, the strongest Atlantic tropical storm in nearly 10 years, is closing in on the Caribbean. The Category 4 storm is headed straight toward Haiti but is expected to hit Jamaica, eastern Cuba and the southeast Bahamas. Flash floods and mudslides threaten these Caribbean islands.

The hurricane prompted an evacuation of Guantanamo Bay’s U.S. Naval Base in Cuba on Saturday (October 1). The Navy airlifted about 700 spouses and children from the Naval Station Guantanamo Bay to its station in Pensacola, Florida, according to a statement. The Navy states that the 4,800 personnel who remain on the base will take shelter in designated locations on the island.

So far, there is no sign that the U.S. will evacuate the 61 alleged terror suspects at the U.S. detention camp, according to CNN. The United States hasn’t released a notice for the 2,000 Jamaican and Filipino contract laborers who live on the bay, either.

The last time Guantanamo experienced a natural disaster was in 2012 when Hurricane Sandy struck. The Category 3 hurricane “ripped boats from their berths and washed away the docks used by the ferries,” reported the Miami Herald.

According to the Herald:

At the detention center, spokesman Navy Capt. John Filostrat said without providing details that preparations were under way for the storm. He did not reply to a question on what category of hurricane the buildings currently housing the detainees and command staff could withstand.

(H/t ThinkProgress, The Weather Channel, Miami Herald)