image credit: Reuters

The spokesman of the Haitian Ministry of the Interior, Albert Moulin, said the voluntary evacuations of the inhabitants of the small islands of the southern coast of Haiti have began, as the powerful hurricane Matthew starts hammering the already environmentally vulnerable nation.  

Up to 100 cm of rain is expected, with high risks of floods and landslides, said the US Hurricane Center. Meteorologists believe that Matthew, generating winds of up to 240 km / h, is the most powerful hurricane to have formed in the Atlantic in nearly a decade.

Saturday night Matthew was 580 km southwest of Port-au-Prince and had been downgraded during the day to a tropical storm category 4, the second highest on the Saffir-Simpson.

Haitian officials are struggling to find all the needed ressources to assist the thousands that are expected to be majorly affected by the hurricane.  

In a country of ten million inhabitants, there are only 30 active firefighters and 2.000 brigadiers ready for a disaster, but the government is doing its best with the little it has. 576 temporary shelters are made available in the south, where the hurricane is expected to hit the hardest; enough to accommodate just under 90,000 people.