The towns and villages of Haiti's southwestern peninsula battened down as best they could early Tuesday for a nightlong lashing by life-threatening winds, rains and storm surge unleashed by powerful Hurricane Matthew. The dangerous Category 4 storm ,with maximum sustained winds of 145mph, was also dropping heavy rains on other parts of Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest country, where many people live in flimsy shacks in areas prone to flooding, the AP reports. Heavy rain also fell on Jamaica and dangerous rainfall was a threat for the Dominican Republic, which adjoins Haiti.
Haitian officials spent Monday trying to persuade shantytown residents to take advantage of shelters being set up. Some people took up the offers, but many refused, saying they feared their meager possessions might be stolen. After passing over western Haiti, the hurricane is expected to make landfall again in eastern Cuba early Tuesday, 50 miles east of the US Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, where authorities flew out out about 700 spouses and children of service members. The US National Hurricane Center says that after crossing Cuba, the storm will probably move northward through the Bahamas, but it is too soon to say whether it will threaten the US East Coast. (Read more hurricane stories.)