Hurricanes Wreak Havoc In Haiti And Cuba

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After Hurricanes Gustav and Hanna caused massive damage in the region, Hurricane Ike crashed into Cuba late Sunday. Reporters in Cuba and Haiti give updates and explain the ongoing aid operations.

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NEAL CONAN, host:

This is Talk of the Nation, I'm Neal Conan in Washington. One after another, hurricanes and tropical storms continue to drive out of the Atlantic over the weekend. Hanna drenched much of the east coast. As we'll hear later, residents along the gulf coast continue to struggle from Gustav, which hit west of New Orleans a week ago today. And now, Ike. The most powerful storm of the year so far, category four when it broke in to the Caribbean and devastated a series of small islands, we'll hear from Grand Turk. Downgraded to category two after spending some of its energy ravaging eastern Cuba, we'll check in with Havana. And it's expected to gather new strength when it hits warm waters again and forecaster say, heads towards Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana or Texas. We don't know what.

We'll bring you an update on the storm track too, but we'll begin in Haiti, hit hard by Hanna then again, by Ike. Later in the hour as Google marked its tenth birthday yesterday, one man celebrated by trying to avoid the ubiquitous blue G for the day. But first, if you have family in the Caribbean, if you evacuated ahead of the storm, if you're still cleaning up from Hanna or Gustav, tell us your story. Our phone number, 800-989-8255. E-mail talk@npr.org. You can also join the conservation on our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation. NPR's Jason Beaubien is in the Haitian port of Gonaives and thanks very much for being with us today.

JASON BEAUBIEN: No, it's my pleasure.

CONAN: And what's the situation look like there today?

BEAUBIEN: The water is starting to go down. But we have to say that that's after an entire week of this town, the city, being flooded in the city of 300,000 people. It was underwater all last week from tropical storm Hanna. The water was just starting to finally get out of the city but it was still sort of ways waste-deep in parts. And then Ike came in over the weekend, it completely reflooded the city. Humanitarian official say that they only had access to about 15 percent of the city yesterday. If things have improved today, people can actually get down in to the lower lying areas. Mind you, getting down to low lying areas means wading in water up to your waist to go back and check on your homes and check on your businesses.

CONAN: And this after, it was just brushed by Ike. It didn't get the full fury of the storm.

BEAUBIEN: It didn't get the full fury of the storm. Basically, the hills, the mountains Gonaives were already completely saturated from Faye, from Gustav, from Hanna. By the time Ike got here, we just had - you know a decent storm here in the Caribbean but it didn't feel like a hurricane coming through. And now, it's enough to just completely flood Gonaives again. I mean, we had probably 15 feet of water in some parts of the city after Ike.

CONAN: And with all the ground being utterly saturated, what's it done, mudslides?

BEAUBIEN: Not necessarily mudslides. Some roads have been washed out and some bridges had been knocked out. But basically, the rain is coming, it's hitting the mountains and it's just coming racing down into the valley, into the rivers, overflowing the rivers, and flooding the city. There has been a big problem however, though, with some of the outlying areas that the roads have been completely knocked out. On Saturday, the U.N. finally got a road link between Gonaives back to Port Au Prince, and Ike's knocked that out as well. So at the moment you got no road access into Gonaives, you've got cities, 300,000 people, all the water supplies have been contaminated with flood waters. Humanitarian officials are incredibly worried about the situation here.

CONAN: There have already been hundreds of casualties but they fear much worse if clean water and food are not supplied quickly?

BEAUBIEN: Yeah, they do, they fear that - food, they figure people can go without food for a while. But it's the water that they're really concerned about, that if people start drinking the water that's coming out of the wells, which people has been doing, that they're going to get sick from that. And that you're going to have huge health problems here. The U.N. is going around, delivering water in trucks. However, they don't have enough facilities to process water for 300,000 people. I mean, basically, they need like an urban water treatment plant and they don't have that. And the other problem is that bringing supplies in here is so difficult at the moment. Everything that comes in has to come in on helicopter. They're getting some assistance though. The U.S. is actually sending a U.S. warship here. They're diverting it from Columbia, it's the USS Keirsaw(ph) and it should be arriving sometime either today, possibly tomorrow. And it will be ferrying supplies back and forth from Port Au Prince. It's got some helicopters on board, it also has some amphibious landing crafts so that they can come right up to the shore and deliver supplies. So, they're saying that that should be a huge help in moving goods and moving equipment into this beleaguered city.

CONAN: And where did the people go when they face this terrible flooding?

BEAUBIEN: Basically people just fled up the hill and many people moved into the mountains. Some people were actually sleeping outside in the mountains. Some people slept on their roofs. A lot of people were camped out on their roofs of second story buildings. Even now, you can see that a lot of people are living on the second story roofs of the houses. They're simply is not enough shelter here for them, you know, with 85 percent of the city covered in water. There's just not enough room to put all those people. There are some large shelters, they're distributing food, they're distributing water. When I say food, they're distributing biscuits, energy biscuits at those facilities. Yes, so that's - that's the situation at the moment. You do have some people that are bringing some food in, some locals, in the market you see some vegetables. But for the most part people are in a fairly dire state.

CONAN: Let's get a caller on the line, this is Michael. Michael, with us from Fayette in Alabama.

MICHAEL (caller): Good afternoon. Pardon me, if I'm a little nervous, I'm still new at Talk of the Nation. Good lord, if I had only known about your last segment about not enough male teachers, as volunteer art and music teacher myself and as a person who knows what it can be like picked on by female teachers in elementary school, a person with a rare autism. My question for this segment is, what can the journalist - what can your guest tell us about the Dominican Republic and other islands that are not nearly, first of all, they're not nearly as much in the news lately as Haiti is. And second what can he tell us about charities, but especially non-profit, child sponsorship charities, religious charities, and so forth because regardless of what Washington may or may not do to provide enough foreign humanitarian aid, to me not nearly enough. Those are the arms and legs of the ordinary American and Canadian people by which we help, whether you belong to a synagogue or a mosque or a church. Or if you're unaffiliated but you just give to a secular organization like Doctors Without Borders or CARE. Thanks for any information you can give...

CONAN: Would you go ahead please? Of course, the Dominican Republic shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. Go ahead, Jason Beaubien.

BEAUBIEN: Yes, I haven't been to the Dominican Republic but my understanding and what I'm hearing from people is that you don't have the deforestation in the Dominican Republican to the extent that you do here. And one of the big problems in Haiti is that the hillside and the hillsides I'm looking out on right now have been stripped bare. There just sort of rock with some scrub on them. And those hillsides used to have these trees. They used to have bushes, and all of that has been stripped to either make charcoal or to open things up so that there can be agriculture. So when the rain hits it, it just floods the town down below and there hasn't been as much of a problem with that in the Dominican Republic. That said, there were some casualties in Dominican Republican from some of these storms. I can't remember exactly which one but there was one major landslide that killed about 8 people in Dominican Republic. And on the charity front certainly, I mean, there's some groups doing a fabulous work and all just won't off who here Doctors Without Borders is here, CARE is with us, is here, the Pan-African development fund is here, World Vision is operating here and they are obviously very important link in terms of providing assistant to the people that here on the ground.

CONAN: Jason Beaubien that will continue to stay tuned to your reports. Thanks very much.

BEAUBIEN: You're welcome.

CONAN: NPR's Jason Beaubien with us from Gonaives in Haiti. Joining us by phone from Havana, Cuba is Juan Jacomino, correspondent for Global Radio News, and Juan, thank you very much for being with us today.

Mr. JUAN JACONIMO(Correspondent, Global Radio News): My pleasure, really well we're bracing for the storm here in Havana, that's suppose to be hitting us anytime very late tonight or early tomorrow after having caused havoc here in the eastern part of Cuba. Nearly all of Cuba is being affected by this major hurricane, that is now downgraded to a category two hurricanes moving south or very close to the southern coast of Cuba, expected to turn northwest at some point and again make a landfall in Cuba for a second time before it goes on to the Gulf of Mexico. In Havana, of course, great deal of mobilization right now, public buses are being cut down, no buses are leaving Havana, no trains, no flights. Is this there's a virtual lock down.

More than one million people had been evacuated in different parts of Cuba and this is a major hurricane now, been downgraded but still dangerous, that comes only eight days after we had Gustav, a category four hurricane devastating the Western part of Cuba. And now Ike, this storm is likely to follow a very similar course to Gustav, again running over the Isle of Youth that was barren soil virtually, and the western part of the nation where they grow this very fine tobacco that got wet. Three thousand tobacco houses that were demolished by the wind and the rain.

CONAN: Besides that can you give us any estimate as far as property damage and of course, has there been any human toll as well?

Mr. JACONIMO: Well, no human toll so far. Some wounded, some people have received injuries, but there's no statistics on that as yet. Likewise, damage is being assessed. Damage is mostly in the area of housing, infrastructure and crops plantations, but no assessment of those damages yet. We'll have to wait until it leaves Cuba finally Tuesday for an assessment.

CONAN: And it's a feared that it - now that it's on the south coast of Cuba, very warm water there, it might intensify again before it makes that second landfall on the western part of the island.

Mr. JACONIMO: Exactly that's one possibility; one big possibility. It strengthening again. But the good thing really is that it appears to be sparing Havana again, and also Varadero, which is Cuba's most important tourist resort. Havana, would two million people, and more that 100,000 old colonial houses, some of them in poor physical state would have been devastated by this hurricane. But fortunately, it's not crossing over Havana according to the predictions now. We'll have to wait a little bit. It looks like it's going to spare us against and that's good.

CONAN: We wish you the best of luck.

Mr. JACONIMO: Thank you very much. Preparedness here, what can I say, it's down to the smallest detail, like I said, no school, no work in Havana. We will soon have no power, no cooking gas and we'll have to survive with that until the storm goes.

CONAN: Juan Jacamino, a correspondent for Global Radio News with us by phone from Havana. We're going to talk more with people affected by hurricane Ike and those still on its path. Hope to hear from the island of Grand Turk in just a minute, that was devastated by the storm when it was still category four. Stay with us, I'm Neal Conan. It's the Talk of the Nation from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is Talk of the Nation. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. Hurricane Ike now a category two hurricane with 100 mile an hour winds swirling over Cuba with the path projected to take it into the Gulf of Mexico and likely somewhere along the American East Gulf coast. We'll find out more, specifically where Ike is expected to hit whether New Orleans might be in the line of the storm. A meteorologist from the National Weather Service will be with us a bit later. If you have a family in the Caribbean, if you've evacuated ahead of the storm, if you still cleaning up from Hanna or Gustav, tell us your story, 800-989-8255, email us talk@npr.org. You can also join the conversation on our blog at npr.org/blogofthenation. And let's got Rob on the line, and Rob's with us from Madisonville in Kentucky.

ROB: Hi, I'm calling, my dad's a firefighter in Houston, Texas, and he's next shift is actually on Saturday. He just emailed me his concerns about maybe not being able to come home until Monday night. Of course, in my experience of growing up in Houston, things that the Houston gets a lot more damage from heavy rains that are brought on by tropical storms more than Ike the hurricane. Houston seems to be really wind ready, sort of.

CONAN: Looking at the track of the storm though, you can't predict hurricanes by any perfect method by any means, but nevertheless Houston does look like a possibility.

ROB: Yeah, Yeah. That's..

CONAN: When you talk to your Dad, what is he doing to get ready for the storm?

ROB: Basically, just kind of battening down the hatches. There's not really a whole lot that he can do. Of course, he can't evacuate. He can't evacuate himself and pretty much all my family lives there in Houston. So that the most they can do is just hunker down. One of my main fears is there was having seen the reaction to the tropical storm that came through there earlier this - turned out to be more like tropical scattered showers, it seems like people just don't take it seriously at all, and I think eventually something like Katrina is going to come through and just severely mess up Houston and no one's going to pay attention.

CONAN: Not in time anyway. Rob, thanks very much for the call.

ROB: Thank you.

CONAN: Joining us now, Dee Dee Thurston(ph), the managing editor for the Houma Courier and Daily Comet. We checked in with her a week ago after Hurricane Gustav. She joins us by phone from her office in Houma, Louisiana. And nice to have you back on the program.

Ms. DEE DEE THURSTON (Managing Editor, Houma Courier and Daily Comet): Nice to be back.

CONAN: And when we spoke to you last week you were living in the newsroom with much of the town without power. Are you still there?

Ms. THURSTON: I'm still here.

CONAN: And much of the town still without power?

Ms. THURSTON: I think the last count was about 75 percent is back, unfortunately my house is among that, so I'm still living in the news room.

CONAN: Oh, that's got to be tiring.

Ms. THURSTON: Very much so.

CONAN: And what about the rest of the town, how are the people doing?

Ms. THURSTON: They're getting a little nervous with Ike, but pretty good so far, I think. We've had a bit of a mess here in Terrebonne. They're seems to be some problems with the leadership of our government, which worries us some. We've been following that on our newspaper.

CONAN: When you say problems with the leadership, what are you talking about?

Ms. THURSTON: Our parish president has ceded control of the disaster response to the sheriff.

CONAN: And people are upset about that?

Ms. THURSTON: Yeah, they elected him to lead and they feel like he ought to do that.

CONAN: Well this is obviously a local problem, but it can have real effect on people's lives.

Ms. THURSTON: It really can, and I must say that it is the first time something like this has ever happened, that the parish president has ceded control.

CONAN: What about schools, doesn't tell like the schools could possibly be back up yet?

Ms. THURSTON: No, schools are not back up. Nicholls State University in Thibodaux was supposed to resume classes Wednesday. What day is today, Monday?

CONAN: Today is Monday.

Ms. THURSTON: Yeah, sorry. They're going to go back to class on Wednesday, but that's the only school that is able to start again. I think tentatively the public schools in both parishes in Lafourche and Terrebonne are going to start on the 15th, a week from today.

CONAN: Is the debris in the road been cleaned up?

Ms. THURSTON: Yeah, most of the debris is out of the roads. In fact, along the roadside, and they're frantically trying to get that stuff cleared the way because they're afraid if we do get some either hit by Ike or get the winds from Ike that have all that stuff could become projectiles.

CONAN: And I wonder - at this point, have you heard from FEMA, have they shown up?

Ms. THURSTON: Yeah, they showed up, I guess. We get a lot of phone calls from people who are upset about them. I know myself. I tried to file an online FEMA claim and it kept - the website kept crashing on me. It took me about three hours to just do the online thing. I got - I tried to call the 800 number once and they just said that all lines were busy and they've hung up on me.

CONAN: So if they're there, it's really difficult?

Ms. THURSTON: Yeah, I know that next door at the civic center, they're giving away ice and MREs and that sort of thing. And the lines are wrapped around the building twice. They go all the way down the highway. It's taking people hours to get through that line.

CONAN: Houma is a big area - staging area for companies that work on the oil platforms out in the Gulf.

Ms. THURSTON: Right.

CONAN: Are people working? I assume they are shutting down now for fear of Ike.

Ms. THURSTON: All the offshore oil platforms evacuating on essential personnel because of Ike. But most people actually didn't report back to work till today. I think state government and local - well, the state government reported back today and some of the parish governments reported back today. But some people haven't returned to work yet. Our hospitals, one of our hospitals is still closed.

CONAN: When people are evacuated in front of the storm, did they still get paid?

Ms. THURSTON: It depends on their employer. Here at the Courier and Daily Comet, our employees did, but not all employees do.

CONAN: It's going to be difficult and with another storm coming, people are going to be looking pretty nervous at the track.

Ms. THURSTON: Yes, very nervously.

CONAN: I'm afraid I'm going to have to say we're going to check back in with you.

Ms. THURSTON: Well, we'll be here. I hope I'm not still leaving in the newsroom.

CONAN: I hope not either. Dee Dee Thurston, good luck to you.

Ms. THURSTON: Thank you.

CONAN: Dee Dee Thurston, managing editor for the Houma Courier and Daily Comet with us today by phone from her office in Houma, Louisiana. Let's see if we get another caller on the line. This is Ed, and Ed with us from Hunt in Michigan.

ED (Caller): Yes. I traveled the Grand Turk a lot, and what I'm wondering, I talked some of my friends there. Most of them have lost roofs. I think I only know one person who did not. But while I was really wondering if you or your listeners could find out, is what happened to Salt Key? It's an even smaller, flatter island right next to Grand Turk. It has about 90 people on it. I have some very good friends there and everything I've read says they don't know if anybody's there or not.

CONAN: We'll do our best to find out, we're trying to get through to Grand Turk now and we're hoping to be able to get some more information there. But if you travel there a lot, it's a very low-lying island. Is it not?

ED: Well Grand Turk is very low-lying, there's basically one hill on the island. And it's very low, probably rises 12 to 14 foot out of the water is all. Salt Key, which is next to it, only rises about eight-foot except for one hill that isn't big enough to have a house on it.

CONAN: So there's very little, they're very few places for people to go in the event of the storm like this?

ED: In case of the storm like this on Salt Key, there's basically the one rise on the north side of the island. And other than that, you're dealing with four and five feet above water, above sea level.

CONAN: Those islands are protected by reefs, but obviously in the event of a big storm, that's little protection?

ED: Well, and they really aren't unprotected by reefs. It's what's called, I don't - what I go there for diving. And that's wall diving, 200 feet off of the shore of both Grand Turk and Salt Key. You end up with a cliff that goes down two miles in part of the Cayman Trench. So you have not even a reef until you're like within 200 feet of the island.

CONAN: Ed, we'll do our best to get through and find out what information we can.

ED: Thank you so much.

CONAN: Ed with us from Hunt in Michigan. Right now, let's find out where the projected path of the storm might be as Scott Kaiser joins us. He's a meteorologist and the tropical cyclone program manager of the National Weather Service headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, with us by phone now from his office there. Good to speak with you.

Mr. SCOTT KAISER (Meteorologist, National Weather Service): Thank you, Neal, my pleasure.

CONAN: And where is Ike now?

Mr. KAISER: Well, Ike is moved off-shore of south of Cuba, into the Caribbean, and back over water which means perhaps a little bit of intensity increase as it again joins that source of energy over those warm waters. Moving right now, west around 14 miles per hour, should cross the western side of Cuba during the day, Tuesday.

CONAN: And after that, it's in the Gulf of Mexico?

Mr. KAISER: Afraid so, yes. Wide open waters there looking for intensification as it continues then to move on a more northwesterly course.

CONAN: Now one of the differences we were told between Katrina and Gustav, which both hit Louisiana of course, was that Katrina lingered longer over the Gulf of Mexico and intensified. Obviously the tracks of the storm are different, every storm is different. But, does Ike look to - look like the possibility of re-forming into a major storm?

Mr. KAISER: Well I think, Neal, you've made some good ideas there, that the maybes which were always putting in our forecast. But indeed, the Gulf of Mexico waters are warm. We are expecting some intensification and right now, most of the models and the NHC forecast - the National Hurricane Center forecast is calling for Ike to regain major status as a low-end category three.

CONAN: Low-end category three, so up near what? A hundred and twenty miles an hour?

Mr. KAISER: Right, 115, 120 would qualify that.

CONAN: Which is still awfully, awfully powerful. And the cone - the places it might go or the predictions of where it might go, that's still pretty large?

Mr. KAISER: Yes, it is. That five-day forecast is certainly a good one these days but anytime you're forecasting the weather and also these capricious storms, you have to be really leery of pinpointing, but certainly, those areas along the upper Texas coast and the southern and the coastline of Louisiana need to really watch the storm over the next couple of days as it moves from Cuba into the Gulf.

CONAN: So, our friends in Houma might have another problem on their hands.

Mr. KAISER: Well, we certainly hope not. They don't want two of these I'm sure.

CONAN: I'm sure they don't. Also, even if you're not close to where the eye of the storm reaches land, they could be pretty large, too.

Mr. KAISER: Well, indeed they can be and Ike, we saw even with some of the tropical storms that have made landfall, we take Faye for instant that went over Florida and the copious amounts of rain over two feet of rain in some places. So, it doesn't just take the winds, you still have to deal with the heavy rainfall and then the storm surge along the coast.

CONAN: And if you're unfortunate enough to have that storm surge coincide with high tide, you've got another problem.

Mr. KAISER: You certainly do.

CONAN: Well, Scott, thank you very much for your time today. We know you're busy.

Mr. KAISER: Thank you, Neal.

CONAN: Scott Kaiser, a meteorologist and tropical cyclone program manager at the National Weather Service Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland with us by phone from his office there. Let's see if we can get another caller on the line. Let's go to Meredith. Meredith with us from Ormond Beach in Florida.

MEREDITH (Caller): Hi, Neal. It's a thrill to be part of your show.

CONAN: Well, it's nice to have you on and Ormond Beach is right near Daytona Beach, right?

MEREDITH: Yes, sir, just north.

CONAN: And you want to...

MEREDITH: Between Daytona and St. Augustine.

CONAN: And what happened to you?

MEREDITH: We got hammered by Faye as the meteorologist was just saying, we had enormous amounts of rain both south and north of us. And we sit near the St. Johns River so contending with flooding, we still have communities under water from Faye. So, when Hanna came by we were all praying she would stay far enough away that we wouldn't get any rain. Unfortunately, we did and some of those areas have re-flooded.

CONAN: Faye, you'll excuse me - it feels like ancient history at this point.

(Soundbite of laughter)

MEREDITH: I know, exactly. Yet, it's still very real to us.

CONAN: I bet. And when you say communities under water, what? Two or three feet?

MEREDITH: Well, I think DeBarry is still struggling with at least a foot of water in some areas near the country club and that's the worst hit area and the St. Johns River is still at maximum flood stage and rising, because all the water that' fell in Melbourne flows downstream which for the St. Johns River is north towards Jacksonville. So we're still contending with flood level along the St. Johns.

CONAN: And so, this is something - there must be a strange sense of - you look at this track of the storm and you realize it's going to - you know, you look at Ike and it's going to cause terrible problems for people somewhere else.

MEREDITH: Exactly. There's that odd sense of relief that it's not us this time and especially after 2004 where our little community got hit three times, it's - like I said, it's a strange sense of gratitude. You feel for other people and you want to put on your Red Cross vest and go out and do your thing, but at the same time, you're glad you're not working your chainsaw in your own yard.

CONAN: Well, Meredith, we wish you the best of luck.

MEREDITH: Thank you.

CONAN: We're talking about people in the paths of hurricanes from Faye to Gustav, Hanna and now Ike. You're listening to Talk of the Nation from NPR News. Thirty miles south of the Bahamas sits Grand Turk Island, seven miles long, one and a half miles wide. Grand Turk is the seat of government of the Turks and Caicos Island and early Sunday, it took the brunt of hurricane Ike and joining us now is Rachel Harvey. She's on the island of Providenciales which is part of the Turks and Caicos and can - are you with us now?

Ms. RACHEL HARVEY (Providenciales resident): Yes, I'm here. How are you, Neal?

CONAN: I'm very well. Thank you. Providenciales as far as I understand it got some damage but nothing like Grand Turk.

Ms. HARVEY: Yes. Providenciales has sustained some damage and this is what I've heard. I know that in the Solomon of Blue Hills some power lines have gone down. What we have been experiencing - because Hanna came through and Hanna sat on over the Turks and Caicos for about three days. So we had experienced some flooding before and then, Ike came and just, icing of the cake - if I could put that way. So, we have been reeling under the effects of two storm systems back to back.

CONAN: And when Ike hit, it was category four and very powerful.

Ms. HARVEY: That is true. That is correct. When Ike hit, it came aboard - I had power on at night until two a.m. so I was able to see it heading directly for our capital, Grand Turk. And it was not a pretty sight on the screen so I could just imagine what it was going to do to that island.

CONAN: Grand Turk is of course, the seat of government. Are people in Providenciales in contact with the government at all?

Ms. HARVEY: We have been - people have been in contact with Grand Turk. The cell site's up and down. Sometimes, I mean, people can get through. I know for a fact that some people are in to assess what the damage is and to see how quickly things can be turned around to get full restoration of services into Grand Turk. I've sent out a broadcast text message to the nation so that people there would know where to go in terms - there's a meeting that was held around noon today to let the residents, I guess, to give them an update. I'm not sure on what was discussed. But I heard that one of the British naval ships is there at - I mean, at the port in Grand Turk. But I don't have that much more information but what I do know is that there has been a lot of damage. People lost their homes. I'm actually from the island of South Caicos and I've been in contact with my family members there. And they're in - South Caicos sustained a lot of damage to a lot of homes. And the roof tops and so you know what goes along with a hurricane and we got some of that this time around.

CONAN: Sure, we had one listener call with a question about what happened to the people who live on Salt Key, any word at all?

Ms. HARVEY: I'm not sure what happened with the Salt Key residents. I do know that the government had issued a mandatory evacuation for all residents. Now, you know, in a hurricane, there are times when people don't go. So, I have not heard whether or not anyone stayed or what's the status there. So I can't give any information on that part of things.

CONAN: And finally, Providenciales, a major tourist city, obviously business has got to be really badly affected.

Ms. HARVEY: Well, I know just before Ike hit, an advisory went out so that tourists and non-residents had an opportunity to leave before the hurricane hit. But I'm living in the Leeward Palms(ph) area and surprisingly, there were some of my neighbors who had power straight through the hurricane. They never lost power. And there are some people who have electricity as well now. I don't think Providenciales got hit as badly as the other islands, South Caicos, Grand Turk and Salt Key. So, I think that it might be a shorter time in getting service restored - services restored on Providenciales.

CONAN: Rachel Harvey, thank you very much and good luck to you.

Ms. HARVEY: Thank you very much for having me.

CONAN: Rachel Harvey joining us from the island of Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos which were struck by Ike when it was category four. Again, it's now downgraded to category two. South of Cuba but it's possible that it's regaining strength before it re-hits that island again and goes into the Gulf of Mexico. I'm Neal Conan. Stay with us. It's the Talk of the Nation from NPR News.

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

Waves hit the waterfront in Baracoa, Cuba, on Sunday. i i

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

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

Waves hit the waterfront in Baracoa, Cuba, on Sunday.

AFP/Getty Images
Residents of Gonaives, Haiti, attempt to clean up from Tropical Storm Hanna on Saturday. i i

Residents of Gonaives, Haiti, attempt to clean up from Tropical Storm Hanna on Saturday. Later that night, Hurricane Ike reflooded the area. Jason Beaubien/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Jason Beaubien/NPR
Residents of Gonaives, Haiti, attempt to clean up from Tropical Storm Hanna on Saturday.

Residents of Gonaives, Haiti, attempt to clean up from Tropical Storm Hanna on Saturday. Later that night, Hurricane Ike reflooded the area.

Jason Beaubien/NPR

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.

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