[A-librarian-at-every-table] Haiti & Cuba

Kathleen de la Peña McCook kmccook at tampabay.rr.com
Sat Sep 6 08:17:05 EDT 2008

TRo help: http://librarianoutreach.blogspot.com/

Storm-hit Haitians starve on rooftops
by Rory Carroll

· No food or drinking water as tempests batter nation
· Desolation in Cuba is like Hiroshima, says Castro

The Guardian (UK)
September 5 2008


Haiti was reeling last night from a series of tropical storms which
devastated crops and infrastructure and left bodies floating in 
flooded towns. Three storms in three weeks unleashed "catastrophe" 
and submerged much of the impoverished Caribbean nation, said 
President Rene Preval. A fourth storm, Ike, was gathering force in 
the Atlantic and could strike next week.

More than 120 people have died, thousands are homeless and 
agriculture and transport networks have been washed away, prompting 
calls for emergency international aid. "There are a lot of people who 
have been on top of the roofs of their homes over 24 hours now," the 
interior minister, Paul Antoine Bien-Aime, told Reuters. "They have 
no water, no food and we can't
even help them."

Haiti, vulnerable because of its flimsy dwellings and soil erosion, 
has been  the worst affected by the tempests that have battered the 
Caribbean and US Gulf coast. Parts of Cuba have also been devastated, 
prompting Fidel Castro to compare the impact to a nuclear attack.

Tropical storm Fay started the crisis three weeks ago. Hurricane 
Gustav wreaked havoc last week by uprooting trees and triggering 
floods and mudslides that killed dozens. Tropical storm Hanna struck 
on Tuesday with 65mph winds, killing at least 61 people and flooding 
the northern Haitian city of Gonaives with two metres of water. 
Corpses and the carcasses of donkeys and cows - flies swarming over 
them - bobbed down streets turned into rivers.

"I saw 10 bodies float in the flooded streets of the city," the 
police commissioner, Ernst Dorfeuille, told the local Radio 

Gonaives lies in a flat river plain between the ocean and deforested
mountains that run with mud even in light rains.

With roads impassable and winds too strong for helicopters, UN
peacekeepers reached the city on inflatable boats. They found 
hundreds of survivors clinging to rooftops, begging for water and 
food - women on balconies waved empty pots and spoons.

"I lost everything, even the baby's clothes," Jezula Preval, one of 
1,500 people huddled in the a desolate shelter nicknamed the "Haiti 
Hilton", told the Associated Press. She gave birth to a healthy boy 
on Tuesday, after floodwaters swallowed her house.

Patients in a flooded hospital had crowded into an upper floor room. 
At the  church about 100 people huddled on a balcony, waiting for the 
water to recede.

"There is no food, no water, no clothes," said the pastor, Arnaud 
Dumas. "I want to know what I'm supposed to do ... we haven't found 
anything to eat in two, three days. Nothing at all."

The UN soldiers secured a warehouse in preparation for food 
distribution,but could not impose order on the chaos. "It is a great 
movement of panic in the city," the interior minister said from an 
inflatable speed boat.

The US embassy in Port-au-Prince declared a disaster situation, 
freeing $100,000 in emergency aid, a spokeswoman, Mari Tolliver, 
said. She said hygiene kits, plastic sheeting and water jugs for up 
to 5,000 families were being sent from Miami.

Some officials feared that the toll of casualties and damage would be 
on a par with tropical storm Jean, which left 2,000 dead in 2004.

Cuba was also counting the cost yesterday. Officials said the 
onslaught from Gustav in the western province of Pinar del Rio and 
the Isle of Youth was equivalent to the past 14 storms combined. 
"There are severe damages to the electrical system. It's practically 
on the floor," said the vice- president, Carlos Lage. "In terms of 
buildings and homes, roofs are generally gone. The island is exposed 
to the sky."

Effective organisation minimised loss of life in Cuba, but could not 
save property. State media reported that 503 schools and 100,000 
homes were affected. Some 3,306 tobacco curing barns were destroyed, 
along with thousands of tonnes of tobacco leaves, coffee and 

Castro, the former president, said the damage was immense. "The 
photos and videos transmitted on national television reminded me of 
the desolation I saw when I visited Hiroshima."

Forecasters do not know if Ike, a category four storm advancing from 
the east, will make landfall. With winds of 140mph it could be 
disastrous. Ike is the third major hurricane of the Atlantic season, 
which runs from June to November.

 Kathleen de la Peña McCook  

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