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Hurricane Matthew cost$10B; Nicole bears down on Bermuda
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 12, 2016

Storm-hit Haiti gets first major food aid
Port-Salut, Haiti (AFP) Oct 12, 2016 - The first major handout of food aid took place along Haiti's storm-wrecked southwest coast on Wednesday -- but supplies were still far short of what was needed by the thousands of starving people.

Two trucks loaded with rice from the UN's World Food Programme stocks and two others from private charities went by convoy to two hard-hit towns on Haiti's Tiburon Peninsula: Port Salut and Roche a Bateau.

"It is very important to reach the most vulnerable communities and provide them with life-saving food assistance," a WFP spokesman, Alexis Masciarelli, told AFP by telephone.

"These people have lost their homes and livelihood and sometimes have nothing else to eat than the coconuts and papayas from the fallen trees."

In Port Salut, some in a crowd of people waiting in the frying sun for the food to be handed out confirmed that meager diet since Hurricane Matthew ravaged their crops, livestock and fruit trees on October 4.

"We need to eat, and also water and tin for our roofs," one 18-year-old, Gedeon Rigab, said.

"I've eaten nothing but coconuts for five days," said another, Djymi Forestal, 25.

Nuns at a Christian school in Port Salut, Saint Dominique's College, supervised the unloading of the WFP truck.

They had been expecting four trucks to turn up, but had to make do with one. Most of the sacks of rice meant to feed a family of four for a month were emptied into smaller bags that would last just three days, so there was enough to hand out to everyone.

"We don't have enough for everybody, so we have to divide it to give to more people," the sister in charge, Marie-Nadia Noel, explained.

She said she feared the crowd could turn violent if only some people walked away with food.

To prevent fights and jostling that marred previous smaller handouts by US charity groups, just a handful of people at a time were let through the school's metal gate to pick up their bags. The process, watched over by three Haitian policemen, went smoothly.

A Haitian health ministry official overseeing the distribution, Margareth Mallet, said the initial plan had been to give 250 families in Port Salut -- around 1,200 people or a quarter of the town's estimated population -- enough to eat for weeks.

"We are trying to help the most vulnerable first, and over the coming days we will be accelerating distribution," she said.

A WFP employee not authorized to speak to the media said that it was up to the local communities to work out how best to hand out the food.

"We simply can't reach everybody in one go," the employee said.

Hurricane Matthew caused $10 billion in damage in the United States as it swept through southeastern states, Goldman Sachs estimated Wednesday.

After a devastating hit on Haiti, Matthew crawled up the US coast from Florida to North Carolina on October 6-9, triggering widespread wind and flooding damage.

Analysts at Goldman Sachs said the preliminary property damage estimate is about $10 billion, about half of that insured losses.

For US hurricanes historically, that is relatively small; it makes Matthew only the 22nd worst storm in terms of property damage, according to Goldman's analysis.

The impact on the US economy will likely be minimal, it said. Based on earlier storms, there could be an 0.1-0.2 percentage point fall in industrial production in October, it said.

But both industrial output and employment "are likely to rebound the following months, and we do not expect a noticeable effect on the quarterly GDP numbers."

"Whatever the direct losses to property, they will not be directly visible in most economic indicators, which focus on the flow of new production, sales, and employment, rather than the stock of existing wealth," it said.

Meanwhile, analytics company Corelogic said its estimates of insured losses from the storm ran between $4 billion and $6 billion, most of that from wind damage.

Hurricane Nicole bears down on Bermuda
Miami (AFP) Oct 12, 2016 - Hurricane Nicole barreled toward Bermuda Wednesday as a Category 2 storm, just days after Matthew killed hundreds in the Caribbean, mostly in Haiti.

Packing 100 mile (155 kilometer) per hour winds, Nicole was 320 miles (520 kilometers) southwest of Bermuda at 1200 GMT.

The storm was heading northwest at about seven miles (11 kilometers) per hour in the Atlantic, and is expected on or near the British island territory within the next 24 hours.

"Hurricane conditions are expected to begin on Bermuda Thursday morning, with tropical storm conditions expected to begin by later today or tonight," the NHC said in one of its Wednesday updates.

"A dangerous storm surge is expected to produce coastal flooding in Bermuda. Near the coast, the surge will be accompanied by large and destructive winds," said the NHC, adding that rainfall of up to eight inches (20 centimeters) is anticipated.

Nicole already has disrupted the next US cargo supply trip to the International Space Station. Initially set for Thursday, the launch now has been delayed until Sunday, NASA officials said.

Last week another hurricane, Matthew, strafed the Caribbean and US east coast, hitting Haiti as a Category 4 storm.

Impoverished Haiti, with 473 known dead, continues to struggle from the after-effects of Matthew, with thousands still in shelters and health officials warning about the possible spread of cholera.

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Previous Report
Haiti death toll hits 473 as survivors plead for aid
Port-Au-Prince (AFP) Oct 12, 2016
At least 473 people are now known to have died as Hurricane Matthew leveled swaths of southern Haiti last week, officials said Tuesday, as hard-hit communities struggled to rebuild homes and access food and clean water. Haiti is observing three days of mourning for victims of the deadly storm, which also left 75 missing and 330 injured according to the provisional toll from the nation's civi ... read more

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