Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Update on the Impact of Hurricane Ike on Haiti and Cuba

Haiti 'needs urgent storm help'

Haiti's new prime minister, Michele Pierre-Louis, says people displaced and stranded by recent storms are in urgent need of food and water.

She said Haiti had suffered ecological and economic disaster in the wake of four successive storms that left more than 550 people dead.

Strong winds and torrential rains over the past month have battered Haiti's already fragile infrastructure.

The UN and other agencies now say they face a huge task in distributing aid.

Ms Pierre-Louis told the BBC's Caribbean Service that the priority was to get supplies to people cut off by widespread flooding.

She said that since early on Tuesday morning - when weather conditions had improved - helicopters had been flying supplies from a US aid ship to people stranded throughout the country.

"This is the most urgent part. Then we are making an assessment of the destruction, in terms of education, health and agriculture, so that we can launch an urgent plea to the international community for help," Ms Pierre-Louis said.

Dangerous season

The prime minister only took office on 5 September after a tortuous confirmation process, with her government replacing the one dismissed in April for failing to manage the economy of the desperately poor country.

That came against a background of riots over high food and fuel prices, during which at least six people were killed.
Hurricane Ike: September
Tropical Storm Hanna: September
Hurricane Gustav: August, September
Tropical Storm Fay: August
Ms Pierre-Louis said her government would try its best to deal with the situation but admitted that Haiti, beset by years of political instability, had very weak institutions.

She said she was reaching out to the country's parliament, political class and the private sector.

"I think it is time to put behind us all our frustrations and differences, and if we're not able to do that, believe me, I don't think we're going to get out of this."

The last hurricane to affect Haiti, Ike, compounded the devastation wrought by Tropical Storm Fay, Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hanna.

The northern city of Gonaives has been particularly badly hit by flooding. So far 101 bodies have been found there as the floodwaters recede.

Vicky Delore-Ndjeuga, a spokesman for the UN Mission in Haiti, said that number could increase as people become increasingly desperate for aid.

"If we don't find a way to deliver massive humanitarian aid, [we] will see fights and riots that will kill more people than the cyclone did," she told the AFP news agency.

Elsewhere in the region, in the Turks and Caicos Islands and the southern Bahamas, people are also facing huge repairs after Ike roared through the region as a powerful category four hurricane.

In the Turks and Caicos, nearly 80% of buildings are reported to have been damaged.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2008/09/10 10:51:49 GMT

Ike gradually moves away from Cuba

More than two and half million people were evacuated

Significant rainfall could still occur today in western and central areas

BY Orfilio Peláez

Commandante en Jefe Fidel Castro’s continued interest in keeping abreast of the situation in the provinces hit by Hurricane Ike was highlighted by presenter Randy Alonso after telephone conversations with Olga Lidia Tapia, José Ramón Monteagudo, Lázaro Expósito, Jorge Luis Tapia, Miguel Díaz-Canel and Pedro Betancourt, presidents of the respective Provincial Defense Councils in Pinar del Río, Cienfuegos, Granma, Ciego de Avila, Holguín and Matanzas during yesterday’s Mesa Redonda program.

According to Colonel José Ernesto Betancourt from the Civil Defense General Staff, by four o’clock yesterday afternoon, some 2,615,794 people had been evacuated, a figure that demonstrates the agility with which this vital preventative task had been carried out.

After crossing the eastern region of Pinar del Río province and exiting the country at a point of the northern coast close to the Manuel Sanguily community in the municipality of La Palma, last night Hurricane Ike was moving through the waters of the Gulf of Mexico in a west northeasterly direction at a rate of 10 kilometers per hour, gradually moving away from Cuba.

Speaking on the “Mesa Redonda” program, Dr. José Rubiera, head of the Forecasts Center at the Meteorological Institute, warned that today there are still bands of associated storm clouds that could cause significant bursts of rainfall in the western and central provinces of the country.

The specialist emphasized the extensive area of tropical storm force winds (from 63 to 117 kilometers per hour) produced by Hurricane Ike, which covered practically the whole of the western provinces for several hours. There were even hurricane strength gusts at different points – principally in City of Havana and Habana province – as it swept up through the island. Likewise, as the hurricane made its way along the length of the archipelago, it produced intense rainfall – accumulating 400 and 500 millimeters in 24 hours – in the Escambray massif and other points in the central region of the country.

Rubiera confirmed that for the next few days, there are no signs of any further cyclonic activity in our geographical area, which includes the tropical Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea.

Translated by Granma International

Raúl receives solidarity from presidents of Nicaragua and Brazil

Cuban president has been in constant communication with the territories affected by Ike

PRESIDENT Raúl Castro has received a phone call from Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega asking about the damage wrought by Hurricane Ike.

A national media note stated that Raúl also talked with Rosario Murillo, wife of the Nicaraguan leader, and both transmitted a message of support to the Cuban people and the leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro.

Raúl has remained in constant contact with leaders in different parts of the country to receive details and plan measures for confronting Hurricane Ike and the steps to follow for a rapid recovery.

He had talks with José Ramón Machado Ventura, first vice president; and Esteban Lazo Hernández, vice president of the Council of State, both members of the Political Bureau, who are heading the working groups that have stayed in the eastern and central provinces, respectively.

Similarly, he has been in communication with General of the Army Leopoldo Cintras Frías, jointly appointed with Olga Lidia Tapia Iglesias, to assess measures and contribute to the situation in Pinar del Río in the wake of Hurricane Ike to recoup the damage done.

Raúl also talked with Ana Isa Delgado Jardines, president of the Defense Council on the Isle of Youth.


Yesterday morning (September 9), the Cuban president talked with his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva and, at his request, detailed the damage caused by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike.

Lula asked how he could help the Cuban people and said that he would instruct his ministers to organize aid.

At the same time he asked Raúl to transmit to all the Cuban people and to Fidel his solidarity greetings in this difficult time.

Translated by Granma International

Raúl expresses his confidence that we will recover from the damages caused by Ike

President Raúl Castro has expressed his confidence that the Cuban people will be able to recover from the damage that is likely to occur following Hurricane Ike’s passage through the island.

In telephone conversations to each of the first secretaries of the Party in the provinces threatened by this powerful hurricane, Raúl stated that we have to use all available means to protect human lives and the resources of the state and the population itself.

Aware of the measures adopted in these areas to confront this meteorological phenomenon, the likewise second secretary of the Party emphasized the importance of preparing for the worst from the "informative phase" onwards.

Raúl also stressed the importance of continuing preparations as a way of minimizing damage. He called on the officials in these provinces to send a message of solidarity to the population and the authorities for the stance they are adopting at a time such as this.

The president of the Council of State and Ministers confirmed his confidence in the preventative and organizational measures that have been taken and in the tasks that have been undertaken to reduce the impact of the hurricane.

In a meeting with the Civil Defense Councils from the distinct provinces, José Ramón Machado Ventura, first vice president ofthe Councils of State and Ministres, Esteban Lazo Hernández and Carlos Lage Dávila, vice presidents of the Council of State, General of the Army Ramón Espinosa, chief of the Eastern Army, - all members of the Political Bureau - , Abelardo Álvarez Gil, Roberto Morales Ojeda, Víctor Fidel Gaute and Roberto López Hernández, members of the Secretariat of the Central Committee, General of the Army Joaquín Quinta Solá, deputy minister of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and other leaders confirmed the situation of evacuees and the work being carried out to guarantee the availability of food and other resources.

They also discussed the distribution of domestic fuel to families facing power cuts in the days following Hurricane Ike, and the situation at power stations and reservoirs.

These commissions highlighted the need to act with discipline, organization, and responsibility.

Translated by Granma International •

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