In the Space of eight days Cuba been rocked by two Hurricanes and although very few human lives were lost, a massive number of houses, schools and cultural institutions were damaged or completely destroyed.
Bananas and plantains, coffee, yucca and corn were the hardest hit. Officials also reported significant damage to the poultry industry, small vegetable gardens and food storage facilities.
El Nuevo Herald reported that lost 700,000 tons of food products were lost in 10 days, due to the back-to-back storms. Over 200,000 homes have been damaged 30,000 were completed destroyed. The Cuban government has announced the total damage will top $5 billion. Meanwhile, the Bush administration has rejected a Cuban plea for a temporary lifting of the US embargo. Cuba said it would use the repeal to buy desperately needed supplies from North American companies. But the White House said it would only offer Cuba $2 million in relief aid. The White House initially offered just $100,000 but increased the figure after coming under criticism. In a statement, the Cuban foreign ministry responded, “Our country cannot accept a donation from the country that blockades us.”
Below is a short extract from a six page report by Thomas Warner secretary Seattle/Cuba Friendship Committee - a Task Force of the Church Council of Greater Seattle you can find the whole report here.
HOW CAN YOU HELP
h Make a donation to our appeal
h Support us in raising building support for call by a group of Cuban artists and intellectuals to have the blockade lifted
"Unlike Hurricane Gustav, Cuba was unable to avoid casualties and seven deaths were reported. A greater number of deaths were avoided due to Cuba's mandatory evacuation policy. Neighboring Haiti has said that more than 1,000 people have died due to hurricanes over the last month.
President Raúl Castro directed the massive evacuation and public security operations from Havana, giving orders to the leaders of the 14 Cuban provinces in conference calls. State media reported that 2,615,794 people were evacuated over the three days that Hurricane Ike terrorized the island.
Care International, working on the ground in Cuba, said today that a "full assessment of the damage is not yet possible as telephone communication infrastructure through the affected regions has been significantly affected."
It is, however, known that "the main damage is concentrated in agriculture, power and telephone systems, homes and economic and social installations. As a result of the large track of the storm, virtually all agricultural activity on the Island has been impacted in varying degrees," said the statement.
"We are very likely looking at tens of thousands of people without a roof over their heads, and the very real possibility of shortages of essential food staples," said Caroline Poussart, Director of CARE in Cuba.
You can read the Care International advisory here. "
UPDATE (Sat 20)
> An Upbeat Update on the Hurricane disaster in Cuba
> Checkout the damage
> Official Damage Report (preliminary)
> Cuba Moves On, Despite Blockade
> World vs. US Blockade of Cuba