NASHVILLE, Tenn. - As Americans braced for one of the most powerful storms to hit in nearly a decade, residents of at least one other country is already seeing devastation.
Hurricane Matthew slammed the shores of Haiti by Tuesday morning and left major damage by strong winds and rising water.
Winds were gusting up to 145 miles per hour when the hurricane made landfall. Homes were destroyed by the Category 4 storm although it is too early to determine the extent of the damage as of early Tuesday afternoon.
"I got pretty worried and broke down last night," Kelsi Fulton, a Nashville resident told NewsChannel 5.
Fulton's parents are medical missionaries and moved to Port-au-Prince two years ago. She has grown up visiting Haiti even after the 2010 earthquake that killed hundreds of people.
"My parents were hiding out in the surgery suite of the hospital they manage which is essentially right across the street from the water," Fulton added.
She last spoke to her mother on Sunday and have stayed up to date through Facebook. Her parents are with other people for their organization Mission Haiti Medical. As of Tuesday afternoon, Fulton's father posted on Facebook saying the hospital is closed but is working with a small group at a clinic to handle emergencies.
"I'm having this internal battle feeling like I should be worried but I know there's nothing I can do about it, it's out of my hand," Fulton said.
Other organizations with Nashville ties are also in Haiti including the nonprofit LiveBeyond.
Founder & CEO Dr. David Vanderpool moved to Haiti and has been supplying fundamental needs and healthcare to residents of Thomazeau. He has also informed friends and family back home through Facebook saying they are safe.
"As the rain was blowing horizontally last night we could hear singing coming from different churches around and people asking the Lord to protect them," Dr. Vanderpool said.
His team began distributing food to meet an immediate need after the hurricane devastated crops on farms and in family gardens.
"This storm is really going to accentuate the food shortage in the area," Dr. Vanderpool told NewsChannel 5 via Skype. "The people of Haiti are distraught because they've all seen devastation upon devastation."
As of Tuesday morning, AP reports the total death toll from the storm is at least seven.
To help LiveBeyond, click on this link.
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