Hurricane Ike Churns Through Caribbean Hurricane Ike has passed over Haiti and is now steaming toward the Gulf of Mexico, leaving devastation in its wake. Flooding has hampered relief efforts in the port city of Gonaives, Haiti, which is still suffering from the effects of Tropical Storm Hanna.
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Hurricane Ike Churns Through Caribbean

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Hurricane Ike Churns Through Caribbean

Hurricane Ike Churns Through Caribbean

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JACKI LYDEN, host:

Hurricane Ike is churning through the Caribbean. It's now over Cuba and plowing toward the Gulf of Mexico. In parts of the tiny Turks and Caicos Islands, the damage was devastating. We reached Sergeant Brian Stacia(ph) on the hard-hit island of South Caicos.

Sergeant BRIAN STACIA: It is a catastrophe. Most of the people are in shelters. Some were evacuated by the police from the shelters after the roofs and stuff falling in. Along about two or three in the morning.

LYDEN: The hurricane also passed just north of Haiti, still reeling from two huge recent storms: Gustav and Hanna. Hundreds of Haitians died in those storms and at least 48 more drowned overnight.

NPR's Jason Beaubien is in one flooded Haitian city and filed this report.

JASON BEAUBIEN: Steep mountains surround the port city of Gonaives. Standing up the slope to the east of the city, you can see how almost the entire city is underwater. Where the coast used to be, the water in the streets appears to merge seamlessly with the ocean. Welcun Emmanuel(ph), who lives in a shack on the slope, says the water is even higher today than when Tropical Storm Jeanne hit here in 2004 and killed several thousand people.

Mr. WELCUN EMMANUEL (Resident): Now when the (unintelligible) water coming, the walls go in the water. Then plenty people go in the water.

BEAUBIEN: Emmanuel says over the past week, five people who had to evacuate their homes have been sleeping on the floor of his house. The rains from Ike have displaced even more people, and the rains are still coming.

Dr. MAXIMILIANO COCINE(ph)(Doctors without Borders): The clean water is the main problem at the moment. It's the main problem.

BEAUBIEN: Maximiliano Cocine is the head of mission for the Belgian chapter of Doctors Without Borders. Last week, Tropical Storm Hanna, among other things, cut off all road access to Gonaives, killed some 200 people and destroyed the city's hospital. Doctors Without Borders set up a health clinic in the heart of the city. But after the heavy rains today from Ike, that clinic is now inaccessible.

Cocine says they're considering setting up a field hospital on the U.N. base. But he says it's even more important to figure out how residents are going to get clean water.

Dr. COCINE: Because people without food can still survive some days, but if they are without water, after a couple of days, they start to drink the dirty water. And we are thinking about 300,000 people here. So it's a huge amount of water that we need.

BEAUBIEN: Adding to the stress on the humanitarian relief operation here, the water in the city continues to rise as more rain runs down from the surrounding hillsides. The United Nations base is already partially flooded and all nonessential U.N. personnel have been evacuated.

Jason Beaubien, NPR News, Gonaives, Haiti.

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