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Ike Hits Haiti And Cuba, Aims For U.S. Gulf

Waves hit the waterfront in Baracoa, Cuba, on Sunday.
/ AFP/Getty Images
Waves hit the waterfront in Baracoa, Cuba, on Sunday.

Hurricane Ike is expected to make landfall in the United States this week, somewhere between the Florida panhandle and the Texas coast, forecasters say.

On Monday, the storm was working its way across Cuba. It crashed into the island late Sunday night, tearing off roofs and whipping up powerful waves.

Ike had already caused havoc in the Caribbean. It struck the islands of the Bahamas, and before that, Haiti, where at least 58 people have been killed.

NPR's Jason Beaubien, in the Haitian port city of Gonaives, tells Renee Montagne the city is still almost entirely flooded after being hit last week by Tropical Storm Hanna.

Over the weekend, the outer bands of Ike came through the city, dumping even more rain.

"At this point this morning, we've still got water covering most of the city here in Gonaives," Beaubien says.

Ike is the fourth big storm to hit Haiti in less than a month.

Beaubien says the only people who have left Gonaives have been medically evacuated. "All of the bridges, at this point, are now ... washed out," he says. "All of the road access into Gonaives is gone. People basically have just moved out of the city, the downtown part, into the part of the town that's further up the hill and up towards the mountain."

Foreign aid has been limited, in part because of the lack of road access.

"The U.N. has been flying helicopter flights. During the week, on Friday, they flew in 40 tons of supplies on helicopters, which is a record for them. They've been doing everything they can," he says. "But then by Sunday, with Ike actually here, all helicopter flights were shut down. ... So it's been really sort of touch and go and quite difficult to get supplies in."

Hanna wiped out all the food and supplies that had been stored in the town, so the need to replenish them is huge, Beaubien says.

"Basically, you have a town with almost nothing left in it after Hanna came through, and then on top of that you've got Ike coming through and doing another massive flooding," he says. "To some degree, most of these places were already flooded when Ike hit, so the damage was not as extensive as you might have thought. But it's a rather dire situation here, and the U.N. and aid agencies are trying to figure out how to assist people here."

Clean water is one major concern. Rain water has infiltrated wells, and the city no longer has the facilities to provide clean water to 300,000 people.

"The U.N., Doctors Without Borders, they're trying to work out how to get the facilities set up to filter and process huge amounts of water for the people here in Gonaives," Beaubien says.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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