Listen: Sam Robinson chats with Tim Hanna of Compassion, and US singer Zach Bolen, about the effects of Hurricane Matthew. Image: Evacuation route sign in Florida.
Close to 300 people have died and 20,000 homes destroyed in Haiti, while residents of the USA’s south eastern states are being urged to flee, as Hurricane Matthew bears down on the Atlantic Ocean and Central America.
In Florida, 1.5 million people have been urged to pack their bags while the storm has been upgraded to Category 4.
On Friday morning, Sam Robinson talked with Citizens & Saints singer Zach Bolen—a former resident of Savanna, Georgia, one of the regions most threatened by the storm cell.
Zach said he was worried for the place he once called home, and his friends there.
Danger of Bottleneck on Interstate Highways
“Right now the hurricane’s heading right for that region,” he said. “They’ve just told everyone in that county to evacuate and theres 125-mile-an hour winds coming towards them.
“The scary thing about it is when you’ve got that many people trying to get on interstates at the same time, it potentially sets up a situation where people could be stranded on the interstate just in the traffic.
“There’s Florida, Jacksonville, there’s a lot of evacuation happening that could create a big bottleneck.”
The Savanna, Georgia region has never been hit by a major hurricane, but if it is impacted, reports say the result could be worse than the damage done by Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans in 2005, because it’s further below sea level.
Compassion Australia Working to Help Haiti
Sam also caught up with Compassion Australia’s CEO Tim Hanna, who said a number of Compassion’s projects in Haiti had been affected.
“The storm hit landfall at the southwest of Haiti, an area not far from the epicentre of the earthquake that hit Haiti about six years ago,” Mr Hanna said.
“Much of the housing affected by the hurricane was already makeshift and temporary…and we have quite a number of projects in that area. It’s been hit pretty hard.
“There’s been a lot of loss of herds of cattle and stock, crops are damaged, and floods have cut off bridges that connected the southwest to the capital Port Au Prince, so it’s very hard to even get down there and find out the extent of the damage.”
At least 300,000 Haitians are expected to need humanitarian assistance such as food and housing.
Compassion partners with 239 churches in Haiti and over 100,000 children in sponsorship, and while no Compassion children have lost their lives, many are affected.
“A lot of houses of families who are involved in our projects have been destroyed and damaged, as well as a lot of buildings of churches that we’re connected with,” Mr Hanna said.
Compassion and other aid groups are concerned about the threat of waterborne diseases such as cholera, as well as food security. At least 300,000 Haitians are expected to need humanitarian assistance such as food and housing.
To support the relief work of Compassion go to the Hurricane Matthew donation page.