Hurricane Matthew Destroyed Parts of Baracoa, Cuba, Last Night

Hurricane Matthew's eyewall bulldozed right across Baracoa, Cuba, last night, one of the island nation's oldest and most historic towns. Baracoa was the first city the Spanish settled after landing on the island — some of the town's buildings have stood since the 1500s.

But many were no match for the power of the Category 4 storm, which ripped parts of the town apart as if it were made of wet tissue paper.

Though NBC News reports that most of Cuba emerged relatively unscathed after Matthew's eye passed over the country, National Geographic reporter and photographer Mike Theiss was on hand in Baracoa to document the initial damage. His photos and video are chilling:

Videos from local residents were all the more frightening. In one clip, a group of frightened men and women barricade themselves inside a hotel lobby: One brave soul whipped out his camera as Matthew's eyewall tore through town, ripping roofs right from their foundations:
At the moment, it's unclear how much of the city was damaged or if any locals lost their lives. More than 35,000 residents were reportedly evacuated before the storm hit.

After weakening a bit, Matthew is slated to strengthen back to a Category 4 storm later today, and before it makes landfall in Florida sometime tomorrow, the storm will likely leave a wake of destruction in the Bahamas. Tens of thousands of Haitians are also reportedly without power after Matthew barreled over western Hispaniola two nights ago.

If you haven't bought supplies yet or developed an evacuation plan, now is the time. Though Miami-Dade County is under only a tropical storm warning right now, Broward County and areas north are under a hurricane warning. Everyone in South Florida should be taking every precaution possible to stay safe.
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Jerry Iannelli is a former staff writer for Miami New Times from 2015 to March 2020. He graduated with honors from Temple University. He then earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.