by Emma Margolin, Alex Johnson, Gabe Gutierrez and Elisha Fieldstadt Related: Thousands of Americans Head Inland to Escape Hurricane Matthew Civil defense officials said many homes had been destroyed or damaged, especially in the southwestern corner of the country.
Officials fear that the death toll could rise, especially in and around the southern Haitian town of Les Cayes, which absorbed the first blow from Matthew and where hundreds rode out the storm in homes without electricity and — in many cases — roofs.
NBC News meteorologist Sherri Pugh said the latest data from the National Hurricane Center indicated that Matthew will strengthen over the Bahamas and could return to category 4 wind speeds.
Related: Thousands of Americans Head Inland to Escape Hurricane Matthew While the storm knocked down dozens of homes in Baracoa — a city near the eastern tip of Cuba — preliminary reports indicated that the soaking rains and driving winds caused relatively little damage, and there were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries.
Before the storm hit, many residents who lived close to the water went farther inland.