cut a swathe through something
cut a swath through (something)
To cause a lot of damage or suffering in a specific area or population. It seems that the high winds cut a swath through our neighborhood last night, blowing down trees and power lines on nearly every street. Severe malnourishment has certainly cut a swath through this part of the globe.
cut a ˈswathe through something(of a person, fire, etc.) pass through a particular area destroying a large part of it: The new road cut a swathe through the countryside.
A swathe was the area of grass, etc. cut by one movement of a scythe (= a curved tool used for cutting grass).