Dramatic pictures as Hurricane Matthew lashes Caribbean

Hurricane Matthew — the strongest Caribbean storm in nine years — is hitting Haiti with severe winds and rain.

Strongest Caribbean storm since 2007 hits Haiti, threatens Cuba

Hurricane Matthew pounded the southwestern coast of Haiti on Tuesday, drenching a largely rural corner of the impoverished country before heading north toward Cuba and the eastern coast of Florida. 

(Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Satellite view

Hurricane Matthew, shown below in a satellite photo from Tuesday afternoon, briefly reached the top classification, Category 5, becoming the strongest hurricane in the region since Felix in 2007. 

(NOAA/Associated Press)

Extent of damage unknown

Matthew was causing major damage in Haiti on Tuesday, though the extent was not immediately known, according to the country's Civil Protection Agency.

(Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Seeking shelter

Officials say some sought shelter only after the worst was already upon them. Here, a tap-tap (public transit bus) moves through rainwater from the hurricane in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday.

(Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images)

Fragile homes

Many homes in Haiti are structurally unsound and have little chance of withstanding the hurricane's maximum winds.

(Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters)

Hoping for the best

Civil protection workers asked residents to evacuate their homes located near the Grise River, in Tabarre, Haiti, on Monday. Some Haitian families did what they could to reinforce their tin-and-tarp homes and hoped for the best.

(Dieu Nalio Chery/Associated Press)

Hard-hit coastal cities

Authorities went door to door in the south coast cities of Les Cayes and Jeremie to make sure people were aware of the threat. At least 1,200 people were moved to shelters like this secondary school in Les Cayes.

(Andres Martinez Casares/Reuters)

Cuba on alert

Cuba's government declared a hurricane alert for six eastern provinces. Many people watched the local news on TV Tuesday ahead of the arrival of the hurricane in Guantanamo. 

(Alexandre Meneghini/Reuters)

Shelter in Guantanamo

The Cuban government told more than 250,000 people on the east coast of the island to seek safety elsewhere. This man found shelter in Guantanamo.

(Yamil Lage/AFP/Getty Images)

Jamaica also affected

In Jamaica, which lowered a hurricane warning to a tropical storm warning as Matthew tracked closer to Haiti, many people chose to stick out the rain and winds at home.

(Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press)

Florida prepares

Anxious Florida residents emptied grocery store shelves and North Carolina called for the evacuation of three barrier islands as Matthew threatened to rake a large swath of the East Coast in the coming days. Kerri Vittimberga, originally from Boston, says this is her "first big storm" in the two years she has lived in Florida. 

(Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun-Sentinel/Associated Press)