Hurricane Ike leaves trail of destruction

| 08/09/2008

(CNS): Royal Navy ships Iron Duke and Wave Ruler, which came to the Cayman Islands after Hurricane Gustav, are heading with emergency aid to the Turks and Caicos Islands after Hurricane Ike struck the British territory early Sunday with ferocious 135mph winds and storm surges of up to 18 feet – a week after they were impacted by Tropical Storm Hanna.

Reports indicate that many homes lost their roofs as well as power. The category 4 hurricane also slammedthe Bahamas’ southernmost island, Great Inagua, home to around 1,000 people, though no deaths have been reported.

In a statement on their Turks and Caicos operation, Richard Dodd, CEO Cable & Wireless Caribbean, said that the telecommunications company’s networks remained functional in most areas even during the hurricane. However, many of the utility poles which support C&W cables were blown down by the extremely strong winds.

“We at Cable & Wireless are very happy that there have been no reported fatalities, but we are very conscious of the significant damage that has been caused to property and infrastructure,” said Dodd. “Already, our teams are on the ground making an assessment of the immediate needs –both humanitarian and technical – to facilitate a coordinated response.

He said Cable & Wireless would be providing all the assistance it could to the people of the Turks and Caicos, while simultaneously working around-the-clock to restore all services in the shortest possible time.

Premier Michael Misick told the media that more than 80% of the homes were damaged on two of the British territory’s islands and people who didn’t take refuge in shelters were cowering in closets and under stairwells, "just holding on for life." On Grand Turk, which has a population of around 3,000, some reports indicate that as many as 95% of the buildings had been severely damaged or completely demolished, while on South Caicos, a fishing-dependent island of 1,500 people, the airport was under water and power is expected to be out for weeks.

Ike is blamed for the deaths of at least 58 people in Haiti, and officials found three more bodies from a previous storm. Various media reports on the nation’s death toll from four storms in less than a month range from 300 to around 600, with thousands in desperate need of food, clean water and shelter and relief efforts hampered by this latest storm.

The British Red Cross and other agencies have launched emergency appeals to support operations throughout the affected region.


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