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THE CARIBBEAN
Islands ravaged by hurricanes
9/11/2008
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Four hurricanes sweep through Caribbean in less than a month.

Four deadly hurricanes ripped across the largest islands of the Caribbean in less than 30 days, leaving more than a million homeless.

The 2008 hurricane season is shaping up, even at its late stages, to be one of the most severe in recent memory for the Caribbean. Scientists say rising ocean temperatures from global warming are responsible for the increasing number and intensity of the storms.

It started on June 1 with Hurricane Arthur, but it was Hurricane Fay on Aug. 18 that left some 100 people dead in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

But Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike, which hit the region in mid-August — Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti particularly hard — that did the most damage: 600 dead and 800,000 homeless, most in Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

The Haitian coastal city of Gonaïves was devastated by flooding, a repeat of Hurricane Jeanne in 2004, which left 1,600 dead and 250,000 homeless.

The United Nations has requested US$108 million in humanitarian aid for Haiti, where 10 percent of the country’s 5 million residents lack housing, drinking water and food.

Cuba was also suffered severe losses from the storms, its historic buildings severely damaged or destroyed, but unlike Haiti, fatalities were kept to a minimum thanks to the government’s disaster preparedness plan.

Some 2.6 million people were evacuated when the first hurricane alarms sounded in mid-August. But large areas of banana, potato, coffee and tobacco crops were destroyed in addition to serious infrastructural damage.

Cuban Vice President José Ramón Machado said that the country is suffering economically because the storms hit so close together.

The United Status government offered to send a team of humanitarian specialists to determine whether Cuba needed more than $100,000 in aid, but the Cuban government rejected the plan.

The Foreign Ministry in a statement said that Cuba “doesn’t need the assistance of a humanitarian evaluation group to estimate the damages and needs because it has enough specialists, who have practically finished that job.”

The Cuban government thanked the United States for its offer but said that if it wants to cooperate it would “allow the sale to Cuba of indispensable materials and suspend restrictions that impede US companies to offer private comercial credits to Cuba in order to buy food from the United States.” 
—Latinamerica Press.


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