9-1-108 - Hurricane Ike  61 killed in Haiti
7 confirmed in Cuba - more missing
47 confirmed in the U.S.

8-30-08 -  Tropical Storm Hannah - killed over 500 in Haiti



kills 82 in Haiti and other Caribbean islands



Death toll from Hurricane Ike jumps to 47

HOUSTON (AP) — The death toll from Hurricane Ike has risen to 47.

Authorities said Tuesday six more deaths are being blamed on the storm in the Houston area, bringing the number of people killed in Texas to 17. The remnants of the storm killed dozens more as they moved across the country.

Many of the deaths in Texas have happened in the days after the storm because of falling trees or carbon monoxide poisoning caused by improper generator use.

Others have come from fires caused by candles in powerless homes.

THE death toll from Hurricane Ike rose to 47 in nine US states today, AP news agency reports.

Five of the dead were in the hard-hit barrier island Texas city of Galveston, including one body found in a vehicle submerged in floodwater at the airport, the report said.

Many deaths, however, were outside Texas as the storm headed north.

Ike killed seven people in Texas, including a four-year-old Houston boy who died of carbon monoxide poisoning from the generator his family was using for power. Two people died in Louisiana.

Rescuers continued to search for survivors and casualties along the Texan coast.
Ike killed more than 80 in the Caribbean before reaching the US, AP says.

The surge before the storm swamps Galveston Island, Texas, and a fire destroys homes along the beach as Hurricane Ike approaches Friday, Sept. 12, 2008. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) This is the before shot.

A single home is left standing among debris from Hurricane Ike September 14, 2008 in Gilchrist, Texas. Floodwaters from Hurricane Ike were reportedly as high as eight feet in some areas causing widespread damage across the coast of Texas. (David J. Phillip-Pool/Getty Images. This image is 'after' the hurricane passed.

Flooding over access road 523 to Surfside beach, caused by Hurricane Ike forming in the Gulf of Mexico, is seen near Surfside Beach, Texas September 12, 2008. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria.



Rescue crews comb Texas coast for Ike victims

Matt Wells, left, and his brother, Mark, clear debris from Highway 146
as they try to cross a causeway with their truck after Hurricane Ike
passed through Clear Lake Shores, Texas, Saturday, Sept. 13, 2008.

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Rescue crews comb Texas coast for Ike victims

HOUSTON - Rescue crews navigated flooded and debris-strewn streets Saturday to search for those who insisted on staying and riding out a fierce Hurricane Ike, which shattered skyscraper windows, cut power to millions and flooded thousands of homes as it sloshed across the Texas coast.
State and local officials began searching for survivors by late morning, just hours after Ike roared ashore at Galveston with 110 mph winds, heavy rains and towering waves. Overnight, dispatchers received thousands of calls from frightened residents who bucked mandatory orders to leave as the storm closed in.

Rescue crews were frustrated, but vowed to get to the more than 140,000 people who stubbornly stayed behind as soon as they could.

"This is a democracy," said Mark Miner, a spokesman for Gov. Rick Perry. "Local officials who can order evacuations put out very strong messages. Gov. Perry put out a very strong warning. But you can't force people to leave their homes. They made a decision to ride out the storm. Our prayers are with them."

Sedonia Owen, 75, and her son, Lindy McKissick, defied evacuation orders in Galveston because they wanted to protect their neighborhood from possible looters. She was watching floodwaters recede from her front porch Saturday morning, armed with a shotgun.

"My neighbors told me, 'You've got my permission. Anybody who goes into my house, you can shot them,'" said Owen.

President Bush declared a major disaster in his home state of Texas and ordered immediate federal aid. Officials were encouraged that the storm surge topped out at only 13.5 feet — far lower than the catastrophic 20-to-25 foot wall of water forecasters had feared, but major roads were washed out near Galveston, and the damage was still immense.

Residents of Houston emerged to take in the damage, even as glass from the JPMorgan Chase Tower — the state's tallest building at 75 stories — continued to rain on streets below. Trees were uprooted in the streets, road signs mangled by wind.

"I think we're like at ground zero," said Mauricio Diaz, 36, as he walked along Texas Avenue across the street from the Chase building. Metal blinds from the tower dotted the street, along with red seat cushions, pieces of a wood desk and office documents marked "highly confidential."

Houston Police officer Joseph Ledet was out patrolling the streets early Saturday, but stopped and simply stared as he approached Chase Tower. "It looks like a bomb went off over there," he said. "Just destruction."

Shortly before noon, Houston police cars prowled downtown, ordering citizens off the streets over bullhorns: "Please clear the area! Go home!"

The storm, which had killed more than 80 in the Caribbean before making landfall in the United States, claimed at least two lives in Texas, but the toll was likely to rise. A woman died early Saturday when a tree fell on her home near Pinehurst in Montgomery County, crushing her as she slept. A 19-year-old man also slipped off a jetty near Corpus Christi and apparently washed away.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said search and rescue teams were at the ready in Houston, poised to go to the aid of those stranded by Hurricane Ike. At a sports arena, tractor-trailers and large sport utility vehicles sat idle as the vast storm churned northward across the state.

The storm, nearly as big as Texas itself, blasted a 500-mile stretch of coastline in Louisiana and Texas. It breached levees, flooded roads and led more than 1 million people to evacuate and seek shelter inland.

South of Galveston, authorities said 67-year-old Ray Wilkinson was the only resident who didn't evacuate from Surfside Beach, population 800. He was drunk and waving when authorities reached him on Saturday morning.

"He kinda drank his way through the night," Mayor Larry Davison said.

Some homes were destroyed, but the storm was not as bad for Surfside Beach as Davison had feared. "But it's pretty bad," he said. "It'll take six months to clean it up."

Farther up the coast, much of Bridge City and downtown Orange were under up to 8 feet of water and rescue teams in dump trucks were plowing through in an effort to reach families trapped on roofs and inside attics.

"Right now we're pretty devastated," Orange County Judge Carl Thibodeaux said. "We're still watching the water steadily rise slowly. Hopefully it's going to crest soon."

Thibodeaux said Ike was not causing as much structural damage as Rita, but that rising water was making the effects more devastating. Thibodeaux and other officials were stuck inside an emergency operation center, where he said the water outside was at least 5 feet and rising.

In Louisiana, Ike's storm surge inundated thousands of homes and businesses. In Plaquemines Parish, near New Orleans, a sheriff's spokesman said levees were overtopped and floodwaters were higher than either hurricane Katrina or Rita.

"The storm surge we're experiencing, on both sides of the Mississippi River, is higher than anything we've seen before," Marie said.

As Ike moved north later Saturday morning, the storm dropped to a Category 1 hurricane, then a tropical storm. At 2 p.m. EDT, the storm's center was just southeast of Palestine, Texas, and moving toward the north near 16 mph. Winds were still at 60 mph, and tornadoes were possible.

Because Ike was so huge, hurricane winds pounded the coast for hours before landfall and continued through the morning, with the worst winds and rain after the center came ashore, forecasters said.

"For us, it was a 10," Galveston Fire Chief Mike Varela said. Varela said firefighters responded to dozens of rescue calls before suspending operations Friday night, including from people who changed their minds and fled at the last minute.

Ike landed near the nation's biggest complex of refineries and petrochemical plants, and already, prices were reacting. Gas prices nationwide rose nearly 6 cents a gallon to $3.733, according to auto club AAA, the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express. Some feared worries about a prolonged shutdown in the Gulf of Mexico could send prices surging back toward all-time highs of $4 per gallon, reached over the summer when oil prices neared $150 a barrel.

More than 3 million customers lost power in southeast Texas, and some 140,000 more in Louisiana. That's in addition to the 60,000 still without power from Labor Day's Hurricane Gustav. Suppliers warned it could be weeks before all service was restored.

But there was good news: A stranded freighter with 22 men aboard made it through the brunt of the storm safely, and a tugboat was on the way to save them. And an evacuee from Calhoun County gave birth to a baby girl in the restroom of a shelter with the aid of an expert in geriatric psychiatry who delivered his first baby in two decades.


Juan A. Lozano reported from Galveston. Chris Duncan reported from Houston. Associated Press writers Jim Vertuno and Jay Root in Austin, Eileen Sullivan in Washington, Schuyler Dixon and Paul Weber in Dallas, John Porretto, Monica Rhor and Pauline Arrillaga in Houston, Michael Kunzelman in Lake Charles, La., Brian Skoloff in West Palm Beach, Fla., April Castro and Andre Coe in College Station, and Allen G. Breed and video journalist Rich Matthews in Surfside Beach also contributed.




That Sinking Feeling

The Water's Rising. The Island's Subsiding. And Galveston Keeps on Building.

Forrest Wilder

“People are not supposed to live on a sandbar, and the fact that they choose to live on this one tells you something about the collective psyche. These are people who like to be different, who see themselves as select, and maybe even a little invincible.”

–Gary Cartwright, Galveston: A History of the Island

In 1528, Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca, shipwrecked and starving, with some of his men carving each other up for dinner, hit upon a name for the unforgiving sandbar on which they had landed. “We called it Malhado, the Island of Doom,” De Vaca wrote in La Relación, his extraordinary travelogue. Though most of his fellow Spaniards died, de Vaca was not doomed. He managed to endure the privations of life in the Galveston vicinity (“Wood is scarce; mosquitoes, plenty”) by digging for wild roots and befriending the natives.

Nearly 500 years on, you won’t find the explorer’s gloomy appellation—Malhado—in glossy brochures promoting Galveston, which was renamed in the early 19th century to pay homage to Bernardo de Gálvez, a viceroy of New Spain who never set foot on the island. Instead, this 32-by-2 mile island lures tourists and residents with promises of sun and sand, shopping in the Victorian-era Strand district, and Schlitterbahn, an indoor water park. As one of the last affordable strips of coastal real estate left in the nation, developers have flocked to the island’s West End in recent years to erect pricey condominiums and second homes. Last March, the New York Times pleased the local business community by dubbing Galveston the “Lone Star equivalent of the Hamptons.”

But barrier islands have their own agenda.

The sea is slowly, but inexorably, laying claim to this 5,500-year-old island, nibbling at the beaches, drowning wetlands, and inching up the 17-foot high, 10-mile long seawall that protects the eastern third of the island. Texas has some of the highest rates of coastal erosion in the nation, and Galveston has some of the worst in the state—up to 10 feet a year on some beaches and as high as 15 feet a year along stretches of the bay. In coming decades, scientists predict that Galveston will become significantly skinnier and lower, more vulnerable to tropical storms and increasingly fragile environmentally. Two powerful forces—rising seas and sinking land, drive the phenomenon. Seas have been rising globally for about 18,000 years (though the rate is accelerating), while the extraction of oil, gas, and groundwater has caused the island to subside. Scientists refer to the combination of the two as “relative sea level rise.” Hundreds of homes, not to mention sewage and water systems, roads and natural habitat, are in jeopardy.

Despite increasingly stern warnings from scientists and the protestations of environmentalists, Galveston’s unprotected West End is exploding with development. Developers are building homes and hotels on beaches expected to erode within decades. In some cases, geologists say, the builders are disrupting the very integrity of the island, carving away the land for canals, marinas, and ponds. Such excavation could enhance the potential for breaches of the island during storms by creating pathways for water. In an extreme case, Galveston could even be split into multiple pieces, the geologists warn.

This scenario does not faze many islanders. An abiding faith in the power of engineering and technology has reassured them that the forces of nature can be resisted. So they build in the face of a looming disaster. Thousands of new units are planned. Golf courses, marinas, beach houses, and hotels are all slated for the West End.


Despite evacuation order, 1,000 remain in Galveston jail

By HARVEY RICE Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle

GALVESTON — About 1,000 prisoners and a full jail staff remained in the Galveston County Jail on Galveston Island this morning, even as the island began to be battered by the onslaught of Hurricane Ike.
The reason for not evacuating the prisoners is a security issue and cannot be discussed, sheriff's spokesman Maj. Ray Tuttoilmondo said.

"The prisoners and their safety and well-being are paramount and it will be handled," Tuttoilmondo said.
Any decision to move the prisoners would be kept secret for security reasons, as happened before Hurricane Rita in 2005, he said.
"We did this during Rita and no one knew until it was absolutely done," Tuttoilmondo said.
The prisoners were in the jail as of 10 a.m. today, leaving little time to transfer them to the mainland. Hurricane-force winds are expected to strike the island later today, making exit across the causeway to the mainland difficult.
Tuttoilmondo declined to say how many deputies were at the jail, but said a full jail staff and relief shifts remained on duty at the lockup at 57th Street and Broadway.
He also declined to discuss measures the Sheriff's Office would take to make sure the prisoners and jail staff remained safe if a storm surge floods the jail.
The structure was specially designed to withstand hurricanes, Tuttoilmondo noted.
Forecasters have warned that a storm surge of as much as 20 feet is possible. That height would put storm water 3 feet over the top of the Galveston sea wall.
City Manager Steve LeBlanc said a 20-foot surge would leave the entire island under water except for a strip of land behind the sea wall.
Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas ordered a mandatory evacuation of Galveston on Thursday.


On Galveston Island, Adrenalin Before the Storm

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 12, 2008; 1:40 PM


GALVESTON, Tex., Sept. 12, 2008 -- The drama is at the seawall, where a memorial called the Praying Hand commemorates the tragic 1900 storm that killed 8,000 people in the nation's worst natural disaster. Even at midday, with Hurricane Ike many hours away, the sea is furious and frothing. When the waves collaborate in their energies, they slam the wall so hard that a linear fountain of brown foam shoots 20 feet into the air.
The storm chasers are thrilled, at least for the moment.

"We love hurricanes," says Mark Denison, 48, of Houston. "It will be the greatest storm surge since Hurricane Carla, Sept. 11, 1961, with winds of 145 miles per hour."

Why is he here, on Galveston Island -- which a U.S. congressman this morning predicted would soon be part of the Gulf of Mexico?

"It reminds me how big the world is, how big God is, and how small we are. For everything we can do, this is something we can't control," he says.

Some people have less elaborate reasons for being here. Lisa Cardona, 36, is riding out the storm on the island despite the "mandatory" evacuation order.

"I have pets, plus this is my mother's property," she says as two men, one shirtless, listen to loud music from a boom box set up in her side yard. "I have a cat I'm trying to get inside."


"I'm started to get worried now. It's starting to surge."

By 11 a.m. there is already flooding in low-lying areas as the great bathtub of Galveston Bay filled steadily. Cathy Blume, a local sign-maker, couldn't stay in her own home, which isn't protected by a seawall, so she planned to stay with a friend in what seemed like a safe house made of brick. But the friend bolted for Houston.

"I'm not staying here by myself, I'm a widow," she says as she checked into the San Luis Hotel, which, built on top of an old Army bunker, is the de facto media headquarters of Ike.

Some folks skedaddled.

"I'm a B.O.I. Born on island. And I'm not staying," says Jay Balentine, 45, who owns a nursing home. He was parking a pickup in the hotel garage at noon Friday, preparatory to making the run to the mainland. He says the storm surge will likely overwhelm the sea wall, which he thinks has subsided over the years.

"I had to move two boats, one airplane, and now I'm getting out. We could have water over the whole island," he says.






Thousands flee Houston as deadly hurricane nears US coast

HOUSTON, Texas (AFP) — Hundreds of thousands of people have fled in a mandatory evacuation of parts of Houston, jamming roads leading away from the fourth largest US city and the US Gulf Coast as deadly Hurricane Ike bore down on Texas.

As masses fled the fury of the storm that claimed dozens of lives in the Caribbean, Texas governor Rick Perry issued an urgent and ominous warning to the inhabitants of his state.

"My message to Texans in the projected impact area is this -- finish your preparations because Ike is dangerous and he's on his way," Perry said.

Forecasters said Ike likely would arrive on shore here late Friday or early Saturday, packing winds in excess of 120 miles (190 kilometers) per hour by the time it makes landfall, and generating a storm surge that could reach 20 feet (six meters).

Oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico was largely shut off, the US Department of Energy said in Washington, and US space agency NASA said it was closing its Johnson Space Center in Houston "until the threat of Hurricane Ike has passed."

Authorities in Harris County, the jurisdiction encompassing Houston, said evacuations of the city's most flood-prone areas -- home to about a quarter million residents -- began at 1700 GMT.

Ike, which left more than 100 dead across the Caribbean, could slam into Texas south of the port city of Galveston.

Houston, just inland from Galveston and on track to feel some of Ike's wrath, is the fourth largest US city, with 2.2 million people, and its metropolitan area tops 5.6 million.

Texas Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst told CNN Thursday that a mass mobilization was well underway.

"We have been moving supplies and moving buses now for four days," he said. "We have moved C-130s (transport planes) and ambulances. We have 1,350 buses we have moved into the area."

Officials said the evacuations began with the elderly, infirm and other residents with special needs. Houston officials planned to re-route highway traffic and said fueling stations would be placed on major roads to facilitate the exodus.

But some residents in coastal Galveston resisted the order to clear out, despite warnings that the entire island on which Galveston is located could be inundated.

"Unless it's really bad, we don't want to go anywhere," said resident Leslie LeGrande.

Alicia Cahill, a public information officer for Galveston, said it appeared many people were not heeding the warnings and staying on the island.

"There's more people here than I would have thought," she said.

South of Galveston in Freeport, evacuations had cleared out most of the coastal town, with fewer than 20 percent of residents remaining Thursday, although some still planned to ride out Ike's wrath, a local TV station reported.

At 0000 GMT Friday the National Hurricane Center in Miami said the storm had maximum sustained winds of around 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour, making it a Category Two storm on the five-level Simpson-Saffir scale.

The center said Ike was located about 370 miles (595 kilometers) southeast of Galveston and was moving west-northwest at 12 miles (19 kilometers) per hour.

"Ike is forecast to become a major hurricane prior to reaching the coastline," the center said, adding that "weather will deteriorate along the coastline long before the center reaches the coast."

Oil and gas production in the gulf was largely shut off, though the US Department of Energy said Ike appeared likely to spare most rigs and platforms there.

"Current projections show it missing most of the gulf's oil and gas installations and hitting the Texas coastline sometime late tomorrow (Friday)," the department said in a statement.

"Some 95.9 percent of the Gulf of Mexico's 1.3 million barrels per day of oil production and 73.1 percent of its 7.4 billion cubic feet per day of natural gas production has been turned off," it said.

The bulk of US oil refineries are in the gulf, and Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell had evacuated personnel from its offshore installations as of Wednesday.

A columnist for the city's main newspaper, the Houston Chronicle, warned that the effects of the storm on the city could be devastating. "As of now, Houston couldn't be much more at risk than it is," the newspaper column warned.


Texans Evacuate Coast as Hurricane Ike Approaches

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 11, 2008; 2:08 PM
Hundreds of thousands of people began fleeing coastal areas in Texas today under mandatory evacuation orders as Hurricane Ike rampaged across the Gulf of Mexico, bringing 100 mph winds and a storm surge forecast to be as high as 20 feet.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) urged residents to complete their preparations for the storm quickly, telling reporters that he "cannot overestimate the danger that is facing us."

Authorities in Harris County, Tex., and Houston ordered residents of eight Zip codes to evacuate by noon Central time along routes leading inland. Among the Zip codes cited were those that include Houston's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center and the nation's largest oil refinery. The mayor of Galveston, Tex., ordered the mandatory evacuation of Galveston Island.

Energy companies also evacuated oil and gas production platforms and rigs in the gulf and temporarily shut down most output for the second time in less than two weeks. Hurricane Gustav, which struck the Louisiana coast southwest of New Orleans on Sept. 1 as a Category 2 storm, also forced the companies to shut down production and suspend some refinery operations.

In its latest advisory, the National Weather Service said Ike, now a Category 2 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson scale, is expected to become a "major hurricane" -- defined as Category 3 or above, with winds of at least 111 mph -- before reaching the coastline by late Friday. Some forecasters say it could reach Category 4 status, defined as packing winds between 131 and 155 mph.

The Weather Service's National Hurricane Center in Miami issued a hurricane warning for most of the Texas coast and about half the Louisiana coast as far east as Morgan City. A tropical storm warning covers the coastline east of Morgan City to the Mississippi-Alabama border and includes New Orleans and Lake Ponchartrain.

At 10 a.m. Central time, Ike's eye was about 470 miles southeast of Galveston and was moving northwest at about 10 mph. "The center of Ike should be very near the coast by late Friday," the hurricane center said. "However, because Ike is a very large tropical cyclone, weather will deteriorate along the coastline long before the center reaches the coast." It said hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 115 miles from Ike's eye.

The hurricane center predicted coastal storm surge flooding of up to 20 feet above normal tide levels, along with "large and dangerous battering waves," in an area near and to the east of where Ike's eye makes landfall. It also forecast rainfall of five to 10 inches along parts of the Texas and Louisiana coasts, with possible isolated maximums of 15 inches.

The center of the storm is projected to strike land somewhere between Corpus Christi and Galveston, a coastal area where about 1 million people live. Greater Houston, a 10-county area that stretches to the coast and includes about 5.6 million people, also is bracing for severe weather.

A mandatory evacuation order issued this morning by Galveston Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas said that "residents who can evacuate themselves and their families on their own are asked to do so now." It said 75 buses would transport those who need assistance to shelters in Austin. Galveston itself will not open any shelters, the mayor said.

A hurricane that struck Galveston in September 1900 with estimated winds of 135 mph, equivalent to a Category 4 storm, killed roughly 8,000 people, making it the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

Judge Ed Emmett, the chief executive of Harris County, which includes Houston, said people in low-lying areas of the county could face a storm surge of up to 15 feet. "It is very important for people to understand we're not talking about gently rising water but a surge that could come into your home," the Associated Press quoted him as saying.

Those not subject to the evacuation order are being asked to "hunker down" where they are, Emmett said. "For the vast majority of people who live in our area, stay where you are," he said, according to AP. "The winds will blow and they'll howl and we'll get a lot of rain, but if you lose power and need to leave, you can do that later."

NASA's Johnson Space Center, a 1,600-acre facility in Houston that employs about 15,000 people, prepared this morning to shut down in accordance with the evacuation order.

Exxon Mobil Corp. also was shutting its 567,000-barrels-per-day refinery -- the nation's largest -- in Baytown, Tex., about 17 miles east of Houston.

In the Gulf of Mexico, about 96 percent of U.S. oil production was shut off as of Wednesday, along with 73 percent of U.S. natural gas production, the Interior Department's Minerals Management Agency reported. U.S. oil production from the gulf amounts to 1.3 million barrels a day -- about a quarter of the domestic total -- and gas output comes to 7.4 billion cubic feet, accounting for about 15 percent of domestic production.


9-9-08 -

Across Haiti, a Scene of Devastation

Hundreds Dead, Thousands Homeless and Aid Delivery Difficult in Wake of Ike and 3 Other Storms

Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, September 10, 2008


CABARET, Haiti, Sept. 9, 08 -- Three times this month, the river rose toward Andre Jean Compae's manioc garden and three times, he watched it subside. So when his neighbors in this coastal Haitian town began running for safety as the latest rains came, Compae gathered his wife and seven children into one room to wait out the storm. It was nearly 2 in the morning and he had, after all, nowhere else to go.
"Now I have nothing left," he said.

The floodwaters from Hurricane Ike, the fourth tropical storm to ravage the Caribbean in less than a month, gouged out a swath of the riverbank, downed power lines, ripped up paved roads and swept away several homes, including Compae's, in this village outside of Port au Prince, the capital. Compae and his family escaped out a back door when the waters began washing through their house.

Caribbean nations have borne the brunt of the recent hurricanes, and nowhere more so than Haiti, the impoverished island nation with few resources to defend itself. The scene of calamity in Compae's neighborhood in Cabaret, where more than 40 people were killed in the storm, is replicated across wide swaths of the country, according to officials organizing the humanitarian relief effort.

"I have never seen a hurricane like this," Compae said, holding a machete by his side as he watched the water roil past the place his house used to stand. "There is nothing even to repair."

The howling storm pushed on to Cuba on Tuesday, where it forced hundreds of thousands of people to evacuate their homes and killed at least four people. About 1.2 million people -- more than a tenth of Cuba's population, were forced to seek refuge.

State television said reservoir levels in the western Cuban province of Pinar del Rio were dangerously close to overflowing and flooding nearby communities and roads, the Associated Press reported.

Many in the region, where most of Cuba's famed tobacco is grown, were still without power and water due to an earlier storm, the monstrous Hurricane Gustav, which struck Aug. 30. That storm damaged 100,000 homes and caused billions of dollars in damage, but didn't kill anyone because of massive evacuations.

Forecasters said Ike could now strengthen into a massive Category 3 storm before slamming into Texas or Mexico this weekend.

Before Ike, which had been a Category 4 hurricane, struck Haiti on Sunday, the island nation was battered by storms Hanna, Gustav and Fay, all within the past month. In 2004, Hurricane Jeanne caused landslides that killed more than 2,000 people in Gonaives, Haiti's fourth-largest city. All told, hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced from their homes by the latest storm to hit Haiti. Estimates of the death toll range widely, from about 300 people to more than 500, but lack of access to the hardest-hit areas makes it difficult to know for sure. The already decrepit road network connecting the major cities and coastal towns has become impassable, aid workers say.

The worst devastation in Haiti is found in Gonaives, a city of more than 100,000 people along the northwestern coast. Much of the city remains submerged. Aid workers said 70,000 people had checked into official shelters and a similar number have taken refuge in makeshift ones or fled to the mountains.

Guirlene Frederique, a member of a UNICEF emergency team who worked in Gonaives, estimated that 60 percent of the city remained flooded Tuesday, some of it in water chest-deep. Electricity, beyond generators, is non-existent, she said. She saw fights break out among hungry people grasping for food at the distribution centers.

The whole town of Gonaives has to be rebuilt," said Myrta Kaulard, a representative of the U.N. World Food Program in Haiti. "It's really an enormous challenge that will continue."
U.S. Marines and members of the U.S. Coast Guard, along with U.N. workers, delivered food and water to the stricken area by boat and helicopter, U.N. officials in Haiti said. An American Navy ship, the USS Kearsarge, arrived Monday in Port au Prince carrying helicopters and boats to help stem the humanitarian crisis.

Relief workers have stockpiled enough food to assist half a million people for a month, but downed bridges and washed-out roads have often blocked its delivery. Louis Vigneault, another UNICEF official in Haiti, said some residents of Gonaives spent days on their rooftops waiting for rescue.

"It is impossible to get there and it is impossible for the people to get out of there," Kaulard said. "These seven bridges that have collapsed have cut the country in slices like a sausage and it's really impossible to use the road network . . . The challenge that we will have to face is how to continue supplying without roads."

Rescue workers said that they have made 46 cargo flights in six days, and have transported close to 70 tons of supplies to Haitian storm victims, but still need more helicopters and boats.

The storms have struck a country already burdened by political strife and rampant poverty; the unemployment rate is 80 percent.

On Tuesday in Cabaret, outside of Port au Prince, throngs of people lined streets that pass wrecked houses and fields of flattened plantain trees, watching as bulldozers removed the rubble.

Only a small, wrecked portion of Marie Solage Aristild's two-story, five-bedroom house, which she shared with seven relatives -- remained standing Tuesday. She had lived in it for more than 20 years.

Aristild, her family and neighbors evacuated to higher ground before the storm hit and returned the next day to find their lives undone. Aristild, 41, recalled standing with both hands on her head staring at the empty space and brown water rushing below. "You can't do nothing, just turn to God and see what God can do," she said.


Ike Kills 10 in Haiti, Takes Aim at Keys
filed under: Hurricane News, National News, World News
NASSAU, Bahamas (Sept. 7, 08) - Ike ripped off roofs, swept away boats and collapsed a bridge on the last road into a flooded Haitian city on Sunday as it roared over the southern Bahamas as a ferocious Category 4 hurricane. The Florida Keys evacuated and Cuba prepared for a direct hit.
Five adults and five children drowned in their homes or were swept to their deaths as Ike's driving rains hit Haiti, raising that country's death toll to 262 from four tropical storms in recent weeks.
With Sunday's downpours topping flooding from Hanna, Gustav and Fay, officials said they had no choice but to open an overflowing dam, inundating more homes and possibly causing lasting damage to Haiti's "rice bowl," a farming area whose revival is key to rescuing the starving country.
Ike's eye hit the Bahamas' Great Inagua island, where "ferocious" wind threatened to peel plywood from the windows of a church sheltering about 50 people, shelter manager Janice McKinney.
"Oh my God, I can't describe it," McKinney said, adding that the pastor led everyone in prayer while the winds howled.
Some of the strongest winds hit the low-lying British territory of Turks and Caicos, where Premier Michael Misick said more than 80 percent of the homes were destroyed, fishermen lost boats and people who didn't take refuge in shelters were cowering in closets and under stairwells, "just holding on for life."
"They got hit really, really bad," Misick said. "A lot of people have lost their houses, and we will have to see what we can do to accommodate them."
It was too early to know of any deaths or injuries on these islands.
At 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT), Ike's eye was just east of Great Inagua Island in the southeastern Bahamas, with maximum sustained winds of 135 mph (215 kph). It was moving west at 13 mph (21 kph) and was expected to remain a major hurricane as it approaches eastern Cuba, still about 130 miles (205 km) away.
"All we can do is hunker down and pray," reserve police officer Henry Nixon said from a shelter on Great Inagua where about 85 people huddled around a radio.
Great Inagua, closer to Haiti than to the Bahamian capital of Nassau, is the southernmost island in the Bahamas archipelago. It has tens of thousands of pink West Indian flamingos — the world's largest breeding colony — and about 1,000 people. Both populations took shelter — the pink flamingos gathered under mangrove trees ahead of the storm.
"They know what to do. They always find the sheltered areas," Nixon said Sunday as Ike blew shingles off rooftops.
Rain drove in horizontal sheets and wind tore through roofs across the Turks and Caicos, which has little natural protection from an expected storm surge of up to 18 feet (5.5 meters).
In South Caicos, a fishing-dependent island of 1,500 people, most homes were damaged, the airport was under water, power will be out for weeks, and every single boat was swept away despite being towed ashore for safety, Minister of Natural Resorces Piper Hanchell said.
Tourism chairman Wayne Garland was text-messaging with two people in Grand Turk during the height of the storm. "They were literally in their bathroom because their roofs were gone," he said. "Eventually they were rescued."
In Providenciales, there was flooding, roof damage and downed power lines but no injuries, he said.
"Fortunately, we were able to evacuate most of the people in low-lying areas to shelters, so thankfully I don't expect to have any injuries. We'll keep our fingers crossed that that's the case," Garland said as he left to assess the damage.
Ike's pelting rains couldn't have come at a worse time for Haiti. The Mirebalais bridge collapsed in the floods, cutting off the last land route into Gonaives, Agriculture Minister Joanas Gay told state-run Radio Nationale. Half the homes in Gonaives, Haiti's fourth-largest city, were already under water.
Gay warned residents in the surrounding Artibonite valley to evacuate immediately because an overflowing dam would have to be opened on Sunday, sending more water into the Gonaives floodplain. And in Gonaives itself, the waters were rising even as aid groups struggled to reach people with little or no access to food or water for days.
Heavy rains also pelted the Dominican Republic, Haiti's neighbor on the island of Hispaniola, where about 4,000 people were evacuated from northern coastal towns.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center projected Ike's eye would strike Cuba's northern coast Sunday night and possibly hit Havana, the capital of 2 million people with many vulnerable old buildings, by Monday night.
Cuba evacuated mountainous and coastal regions of Holguin province, and about 200 foreign tourists were brought out from the northern Santa Lucia beach resort. Workers rushed to protect coffee plants and other crops and organized food and cooking-oil distribution efforts.
At the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay in southeast Cuba, all ferries were secured and beaches were off limits. The military said cells containing the detainees — about 255 men suspected of links to the Taliban and al-Qaida — are hurricane-proof.
"People have been forewarned for a day," Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Robert Lamb said. "It's starting to get breezy."
Once Ike leaves Cuba, forecasters said the storm might swipe at the Florida Keys before moving into the Gulf of Mexico. Where it goes from there was harder to predict, leaving millions from Florida to Mexico wondering where it will eventually strike.
"These storms have a mind of their own," Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said. Tourists were ordered out of the Keys on Saturday, and residents began evacuating Sunday, starting with the southernmost islands, along the narrow highway to the mainland.
In Louisiana, Gov. Bobby Jindal set up a task force to prepare for more possible havoc only days after an historic, life-saving evacuation of more than 2 million people from Hurricane Gustav.
"Our citizens are weary and they're tired and they have spent a lot of money evacuating," worried New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin. "It will be very difficult to move the kind of numbers out of this city that we moved during Gustav."
Off Mexico's Pacific coast, Tropical Storm Lowell was moving away from land.
Associated Press writers Mike Melia in Nassau, Bahamas; Jonathan Katz in Gonaives, Haiti; and Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.



Powerful Hurricane Ike threatens Cuba, Gulf

By Michael Haskins

KEY WEST, Fla. (Reuters) - Hurricane Ike charged toward Cuba and the Gulf of Mexico as a ferocious storm on Saturday while Tropical Storm Hanna drenched the U.S. Atlantic coast after barreling ashore in the Carolinas.
Tropical Storm Hanna is seen south of Wilmington, North Carolina in this satellite image taken on September 5, 2008.

The densely populated Miami-Fort Lauderdale area in south Florida was not out of the line of fire from Ike, a "major" Category 3 hurricane, and visitors were ordered to flee the vulnerable Florida Keys island chain from Saturday.

"We're not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination," Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Alvarez said.

Computer models indicated Ike was likely to target Cuba as a Category 3 hurricane on the five-step Saffir-Simpson intensity scale, presenting a severe threat to the crumbling colonial buildings of Havana and tourist hotels at Varadero.

The storm might then curve into the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of this week's Hurricane Gustav, plowing toward an area that produces a quarter of domestic U.S. oil, and slamming ashore near New Orleans, which was swamped and traumatized by Hurricane Katrina three years ago.

The deeper Ike goes into Cuba, the weaker it will be once it re-emerges over the Gulf of Mexico early next week, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

"By day four, Ike is forecast to emerge back over open waters in the southeastern Gulf of Mexico," the Miami-based agency said. "Global models suggest the environment will be favorable for strengthening and the ocean should be plenty warm."

Hanna, meanwhile, did not reach hurricane strength before sloshing ashore between North and South Carolina overnight after killing 500 people in Haiti through torrential rain.

It was forecast to move rapidly northeast along the East Coast over the weekend, bringing heavy rains and floods to the mid-Atlantic states and southern New England. More than 5 inches of rain fell in Raleigh, North Carolina, and a steady downpour drenched the capital Washington D.C.

"We have been incredibly fortunate," North Carolina emergency management spokeswoman Jill Lucas said. "We have had no significant damage. We have had some trees down and local flooding but nothing significant."


Almost 60,000 homes lost power at one point, but by mid-afternoon that was down to 39,000, Lucas said.

Hanna was about 55 miles (90 km) north-northwest of Norfolk, Virginia, by 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT) and moving to the northeast at 25 miles per hour, the hurricane center said. Its top sustained winds had dipped to 50 mph.

Ike was far more threatening than Hanna as it charted a course that would take it through the Turks and Caicos islands and southeastern Bahamas toward eastern Cuba, where it was expected to pummel a long stretch of coastline.

Once in the Gulf of Mexico it might find deep warm water to allow it to grow bigger and stronger, although Hurricane Gustav may have stirred up colder water from the depths before crashing into Louisiana on Monday.

Ike was located around 135 miles east of Grand Turk Island, and its top sustained winds had climbed back to 115 mph after briefly dipping.

Ike had been an extremely dangerous Category 4 storm, but was no longer projected to regain that strength before hitting Cuba, which has barely had time to recover from a disastrous Category 4 blow from Hurricane Gustav a week ago.

Instead, it was likely to strike the communist-ruled island as a Category 3 hurricane, the hurricane center said. Category 3 and higher storms are known as "major" hurricanes and cause the most damage. Katrina was a Category 3 when it struck near New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, swamping the city and killing 1,500 people on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

South Florida, where up to 1.3 million people could be forced to evacuate, was preparing for Ike. State and local officials in Miami urged residents not to be complacent.

"We are still recovering as you are aware from Tropical Storm Fay but we must and we will handle any storm that may come our way," Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said.

In the low-lying Florida Keys, visitors were ordered out on Saturday and residents were told to evacuate on Sunday.

Former Key West Mayor Jimmy Weekley, owner of Fausto's Market, said residents appeared more concerned about Ike on Friday.

"Friday we had a run on water," Weekley said. Saturday was almost a normal business day, he said. "I think people are seeing the new hurricane track and are not as concerned as they were yesterday. Our shelves are stocked, and we have a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables and canned goods."

John Vagnoni, owner of the Green Parrot Bar, said there would not be a hurricane party there.

"We don't do a hurricane party, per say, at the Parrot," Vagnoni said. "Let's take care of our own houses, be safe and then, afterward, there will be plenty of time to have a party. I'd much rather have a survivors party."

Tropical Storm Josephine, meanwhile, dissipated far out in the Atlantic, knocking out the weakest of three storms that followed Gustav's rampage through the Caribbean to Louisiana.

Copyright © 2008 Reuters




Hurricane Ike strengthened rapidly overnight into a Category 4 hurricane. The monster storm is rotating fiercely in the open Atlantic. The National Hurricane Center said it was too early to tell whether it would threaten the United States.

Hurricane Ike had top sustained winds near 145 mph early Thursday. The storm is located about 550 miles northeast of the Leeward Islands. The hurricane is moving west-northwest near 17 mph.

By: Bill Waters
Sep 4, 2008 09:40 AM GMT

Hurricane Ike posed no immediate threat to land as Thursday morning. However, the storm has strengthened explosively.

The hurricane grew to an intense Category 4 in just a few hours from a tropical storm.

Ike has top sustained winds near 145 mph as it moves across the open Atlantic waters. The hurricane is located 550 miles (885 km) northeast of the Leeward Islands. The National Hurricane Center said it was moving in a west-northwest direction at 17 mph.

The latest hurricane model shows the storm tracking towards the southern Bahamas. It could reach land early next week but it was too early to track where it will move from there.

The National Hurricane Center also said it was too soon to say whether Ike would turn towards Florida or if it will threaten U.S. oil and natural gas producers in the Gulf of Mexico.


Storm Ike forms, seen growing into hurricane

Tropical Storm Ike has strengthened into a hurricane in the open Atlantic and Tropical Storm Hanna threatened to do the same as it swirled over the Bahamas toward the south-east US Coast.

MIAMI (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Ike, the ninth of a busy Atlantic hurricane season, formed on Monday midway between Africa and the Caribbean and was expected to grow rapidly into a hurricane that could threaten the United States or the Caribbean

Ike was churning across the Atlantic on the heels of Hurricane Gustav, which pounded New Orleans on Monday as it came ashore on the U.S. Gulf Coast, and Hurricane Hanna, which strengthened as it neared the southeastern Bahamas islands.

The peak of the six-month Atlantic hurricane season usually occurs around September 10, and an average season spawns 10 tropical storms. Six of those strengthen into hurricanes.

Ike's formation, and the possibility of another tropical depression developing in its wake in the coming days, means the storm activity this year is well above normal, bad news for U.S. oil and natural gas production in the Gulf of Mexico and for the millions living in the Caribbean and on U.S. coasts.

By 5 p.m., Tropical Storm Ike was about 1,400 miles east of the Leeward Islands and moving west at 16 miles per hour (26 kph), the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Its top sustained winds were already at 50 mph (85 kph) and it was expected to reach hurricane strength, with winds of at least 74 mph (119 kph), within 36 hours, the hurricane center said.

Computer models used to forecast tropical storm tracks indicated Ike was likely to stick to a westerly path that would bring it just north of the island of Hispaniola, shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

The Miami-based hurricane center said Ike could be a "major" hurricane by then. Major hurricanes are those that rank at Category 3 and higher on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of storm intensity and are the most destructive.

Hurricane Katrina was a Category 3 when it came ashore near New Orleans in 2005 and swamped the city, killing 1,500 people on the U.S. Gulf Coast. Hurricane Gustav was also a Category 3 on Monday shortly before landfall but it weakened as it landed.

Long-range track and intensity forecasts are subject to enormous error but some models suggested Ike could eventually dip to the south-southwest, potentially threatening Haiti, Cuba or the Gulf of Mexico where the United States produces 25 percent of its oil and 15 percent of its natural gas.

(Reporting by Michael Christie; Editing by Peter Cooney)



Beach and Road Damage in South Carolina

Hanna rakes Carolinas with wind, rain, heads north

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Tropical Storm Hanna blew hard and dumped rain in eastern North Carolina and Virginia Saturday, but caused little damage beyond isolated flooding and power outages as it quickly headed north toward New England.

Hanna sailed easily over the beaches of Carolinas' coast, and emergency officials were already looking past it to powerful Hurricane Ike, several hundred miles out in the Atlantic. With Category 3 winds of near 115 mph, Ike could approach Cuba and southern Florida by Monday, as Hanna spins away from Canada over the North Atlantic.

"Hanna is heading north in a hurry, leaving behind sunshine for the weekend," said Myrtle Beach city spokesman Mark Kruea.

He said city services would be open and that "despite a week of preliminary hype" the storm didn't have much of an impact on the city aside from a few downed trees and some power outages that were repaired in less than a half-hour. It was the same story in eastern North Carolina, where Hanna had top winds of around 50 mph after coming ashore around 3:20 a.m.

Julia Jarema, a spokeswoman at the N.C. Emergency Operations Center, said there are reports of some localized flooding, temporary road closures and scattered power outages, but that officials haven't heard about too many problems.

"As the day goes on, I'm sure we're going to hear more reports of flooding as people get out and get on the roads," she said.

At least 1,500 spent the night in shelters and more than 60,000 customers — mostly around Wilmington, N.C. — were without power early Saturday in the Carolinas. In Virginia, 20,000 customers had no power. State police closed all northbound lanes of Interstate 95 just north of Richmond after power lines fell around 8:30 a.m.

And the Coast Guard closed all navigable waters in the Port of Hampton Roads, the lower Maryland Eastern Shore and the Port of Richmond, Va., on the James River.

Heavy rain fell in the Carolinas, including 5 inches in Fayetteville and the Sandhills region. The same was forecast for central Virginia, Maryland and southeastern Pennsylvania, where some spots could get up to 10 inches. Forecasters warned of the potential for flash flooding in the northern mid-Atlantic states and southern New England.

"Fortunately it happened during the night, on the weekend. That would be a mess if it happened during the week as people are tying to get to work," said National Weather Service meteorologist Jonathan Blaes.

No rain fell to the west in Charlotte, where Tropical Storm Fay flooded streets and forced evacuations two weeks ago. To the east, on North Carolina's Outer Banks, the stinging sand and sea spray didn't keep 78-year-old William Cusick from getting up early to walk his dog on the beach.

"I don't see anything too exciting about this — it's not too serious," Cusick said.

The wind started to kick in about 2:30 a.m. in Morehead City, said Don Ogle of Newport, the night manager of a motel in the city along North Carolina's central coast. He said half of the motel's day crew stayed overnight.

"I don't know why. I'd go home if I could," he said.

Hanna started drenching the Carolina coast Friday, with some street flooding by late afternoon. People on the beach had to shout to be heard. By the time it reached the coast, the storm's top sustained winds had dropped to about 60 mph from near 70 mph while the storm was over water.

"All I've heard is wind, wind and more wind," said 19-year-old Dylan Oslzewski, who was working an overnight shift at a convenience store in Shallotte, N.C., about 15 miles north of the state line with South Carolina. Oslzewski said he had only had four customers compared to 30 or 40 on a typical weekend night.

By early Saturday, the wind howled with gusts near 50 mph and rain came in blinding bursts in Myrtle Beach. The lights flickered several times along some beachfront blocks and the wind was so strong that it made waves in hotel pools. Several roads flooded at the peak of the storm, including U.S. 17 in Georgetown, which was shut down for several hours.

But nearly all the flooding was gone before daybreak, said Georgetown County Emergency Management Division spokesman Greg Troutman.

"We lucked out. There's not much out there to report," Troutman said after daybreak Saturday. "But it was good to dust off the ol' emergency plan."

The storm also was causing some travel headaches. Raleigh-Durham International Airport canceled a few dozen flights Saturday morning. Amtrak idled 10 trains, including the Silver Meteor between New York and Miami, and the Auto Train between Lorton, Va., and Sanford, Fla.

Hanna raced up the Atlantic coast, set to leave North Carolina by midday. Rain had started and the surf was picking up on the shore in New Jersey, and Hanna should reach New England by Sunday morning.

Tropical storm watches or warnings were issued from the Carolinas to Massachusetts, and included all of Chesapeake Bay, the Washington, D.C., area and Long Island. The storm has been blamed for disastrous flooding and more than 100 deaths in Haiti.

Expectations of heavy rain forced NASCAR to postpone Saturday night's Sprint Cup Series race to Sunday afternoon at Richmond International Raceway.

Organizers of the U.S. Open in New York said they may have to reschedule some of the tennis matches after seeing forecasts calling for about 12 hours of rain and wind up to 35 mph.

For all the talk of Hanna, there was more about Ike, which could become the fiercest storm to strike South Florida since 1992 when Hurricane Andrew did more than $26 billion damage and was blamed for 65 deaths.

To prepare for Ike that could hit the U.S. by midweek, the Federal Emergency Management Agency was positioning supplies, search and rescue crews, communications equipment and medical teams in Florida and along the Gulf Coast — a task complicated by the hurricane's changing path. Tourists in the Florida Keys were ordered to leave beginning Saturday morning.

Mike Baker reported from Nags Head, N.C. Associated Press writers Estes Thompson in Morehead City, N.C., Kevin Maurer in Wilmington, N.C., and Jeffrey Collins in Myrtle Beach, S.C., contributed to this report.


More than 500 killed by storm in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) — Hundreds of people were found dead in Haiti as international aid trickled Saturday to desperate residents who have not eaten in days since the latest in a battery of storms crushed the country.

As the death toll jumped nearly five-fold in the wake of Tropical Storm Hanna, the poorest country in the Americas faced a possible new beating from Hurricane Ike, which threatened to graze Haiti's vulnerable northwest coast.

And more deaths could emerge.

"The toll is increasing hourly," warned the United Nations' Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). "According to information from the government we have reached more than 500 deaths."

Ground zero of the devastation was in Gonaives, a flood-prone northwestern coast city where about 3,000 people died four years ago when it was drowned by Tropical Storm Jeanne.

Massive deforestation has left Haiti vulnerable to flooding and mudslides. After Hanna struck earlier this week, many residents took refuge on the roofs of their homes before they were rescued by UN helicopters.

"The town of Gonaives has been completely devastated. The streets are lined with groups of people walking through the streets trying to find higher ground", said Parnell Denis, the contact for aid organization Oxfam in Gonaives.

"Food supplies and water are scarce and the price of the food that's left is rising," Denis said. "The morale of people staying in the shelters is so very low; I am afraid to tell them that another storm is on its way."

Hurricane Ike was forecast to pass north of Haiti, sparing it from a direct hit, according to the US National Hurricane Center. But a tropical storm warning was issued for the Caribbean country's northern peninsula.

Ike, packing winds of 175 kilometers (110 miles) per hour, threatened to become a major hurricane again as it approached the Bahamas, the center said.

Senator Yuri Latortue, who represents Gonaives, called the situation "catastrophic."

"I know perfectly well that the hurricane season has hit our entire country, but the situation in Gonaives is truly special, because now some 200,000 people there haven't eaten in three days," he said.

Haiti was already hit in recent weeks by two other storms, Gustav and Fay, which left nearly 120 people dead.

The World Food Program said it was bringing water, food and other humanitarian aid to Haiti by air and sea. The United Nations agency has already delivered food to 14,000 Haitians affected by Gustav.

The two main roads to the cities of Gonaives and Cap Haitien were blocked by fallen trees, complicating the task of humanitarian groups trying to deliver crucial aid, OCHA said.

The UN agency said it would issue an appeal in the coming days for urgent financial aid to help 600,000 people over the next six months.

In Brussels, the European Commission has launched "fast-track" aid action for two million euros (2.9 million dollars) to provide relief for Haitians. Canada announced Saturday it would distribute 600,000 dollars.

Switzerland has pledged aid worth one million Swiss francs (901,000 dollars) and the US Agency for International Development has allocated 100,000 dollars to help the impoverished Caribbean republic, OCHA said.

Michele Pierre-Louis, Haiti's new prime minister who was approved Friday to take office after four months of political standstill, now will have to manage a grim humanitarian crisis.

President Rene Preval said he was distressed by events and urged the international community to rally to Haiti's aid.



Florida had heavy rain the night of 9-4-08 and early morning of 9-5-08. Sun was shining by afternoon of 9-5-08

Hurricane Hannah gains as warnings are issued in areas under its trajectory

September 3rd, 2008 - 9:59 pm ICT by David M N James -
Hurricane Hannah is headed directly to the Carolina’s. Hannah is now the fourth hurricane in just as a few weeks and has caused a major scare to weather experts who are monitoring it. Hannah popped up just as Hurricane Gustav broke and weakened further as it shot inland fagged out. Tropical Storm Hannah lost steam late yesterday and then regained hurricane strength later. However it dissipated and is being projected to gain hurricane strengths again before reaching the East Coast by Friday

Hannah is the fourth hurricane-strength storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season and the National Hurricane centre projects that it will make her way up the eastern coastline. With maximum sustained winds near 65 mph. Hannah has its epicenter over the southeastern Bahamas 450 miles southeast of Nassau.

Hanna is gaining strengths and will be a Category 2 hurricane as it hits east coast of Florida as early as Thursday, with landfall expected on Friday north of the Georgia-South Carolina border. Hurricane alerts will be issued in central and southeast Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands if the hurricane gains more strength and becomes threatening warnings have been issued in the northern coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti as the hurricane wind speed continues to gain.

Hurricane Hannah Projected Path: Tracking towards the Carolinas
by Mike Baron

While the remnants of Hurricane Gustav continue to dissipate and despite weakening Tuesday, Tropical Storm Hanna will regain hurricane strength before reaching the East Coast by Friday.
Hannah, which became the fourth hurricane-strength storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, will likely make her way up the eastern coastline.

Maximum sustained winds are near 65 mph. Hannah was centered over the southeastern Bahamas about 450 miles southeast of Nassau.

All interests along the Eastern Seaboard should continue to closely monitor Hanna and forge an emergency plan. Hanna is forecast to be a Category 2 hurricane as it slides along the east coast of Florida as early as Thursday, with landfall expected on Friday north of the Georgia-South Carolina border.

Because restrengthening is possible, hurricane warnings are posted for the central and southeast Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands. Hurricane watches have been posted for the northwestern Bahamas.

Tropical storm warnings are in effect for a portion of the northern coasts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The storm has been drifting to the southeast. A turn to the northwest is expected and its forward speed is forecast to increase.

Hurricane Hannah Projected Path: Tracking towards the Carolinas - Update 3

Hanna's torrential rains had already submerged parts of Haiti, stranding residents on rooftops and prompting President Rene Preval to warn of an "extraordinary catastrophe" which could rival a storm that killed more than 3,000 people in the flood-prone Caribbean country four years ago.

Hanna is forecast to move over the central and northern Bahamas on Thursday, strengthening back into a hurricane before hitting the US coast near the North Carolina-Virginia border on Saturday.

Hurricane Ike strengthened rapidly into a dangerous Category 3 storm in the Atlantic Ocean with 185 kilometres per hour winds, the US National Hurricane Centre said.

Tropical Storm Josephine also marched across the Atlantic on a westward course behind Ike but it had begun to weaken.

The burst of storm activity follows Hurricane Gustav, which slammed into Louisiana near New Orleans earlier this week after a course that also took it through Haiti, where it killed more than 75 people.

The storms were troubling news for US oil and natural gas producers in the Gulf of Mexico and for the millions of people living in the Caribbean and on America's coasts.

The US Government has forecast 14 to 18 tropical storms will form during the six-month season that began on June 1, more than the historical average of 10.

Haiti decimated

In Haiti, officials were still counting the scores of people killed by Gustav when Hanna struck the impoverished nation on Monday night.

Authorities said Hanna caused flooding and mudslides that killed at least 61 people across Haiti, including 22 in the low-lying port of Gonaives.

The death toll was expected to rise as floodwaters receded and rescuers reached remote areas.

"We are in a really catastrophic situation," said Mr Preval, who planned to hold emergency talks with representatives of international donor countries to appeal for aid.

"It is believed that compared to Jeanne, Hanna could cause even more damage," he said, referring to a storm that sent floodwaters and mud cascading into Gonaives and other parts of Haiti's north and north-west in September 2004, killing more than 3,000 people.

Gonaives residents were still stranded on their rooftops two days after the floodwaters rose and the government did not know the fate of those who had been in hospitals and prisons.

"There are a lot of people on rooftops and there are prisoners that we cannot guard," Mr Preval said.

Hanna has hovered off Haiti's coast since Monday, drowning crops in a desperately poor nation already struggling with food shortages.


Hanna looms off U.S. as Atlantic storms rev up

By John Marquis

NASSAU (Reuters) - Tropical Storm Hanna is expected to regain hurricane strength when it takes aim at the U.S. East Coast later this week as more potentially deadly storms rev up in the Atlantic Ocean, U.S. forecasters said on Wednesday.

New storms Ike and Josephine were both moving westward as Hanna swirled over the Bahamas. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Ike could strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane with winds of 96 to 110 miles per hour before it reaches the Bahamas, Hispaniola, eastern Cuba or Jamaica by early next week.

Ike was already near hurricane strength at 11 a.m. EDT, with maximum sustained winds of 70 mph as it swept across the open Atlantic 740 miles east-northeast of the Leeward Islands.

The intensifying storm activity follows Hurricane Gustav, which slammed into Louisiana near New Orleans on Monday. The weather systems are disconcerting news for U.S. oil and natural gas producers in the Gulf of Mexico and for the millions of people living in the Caribbean and on U.S. coasts.

The U.S. government has forecast 14 to 18 tropical storms will form during the six-month season that began on June 1, more than the historical average of 10. Josephine was already the tenth, forming before the statistical peak of the season on September 10.

In Haiti, officials were still counting the scores of people killed by Gustav when Hanna struck the impoverished, flood-prone Caribbean nation on Monday night.


Authorities said Hanna caused flooding and mudslides that took at least 25 lives across Haiti, including 12 in the low-lying port of Gonaives and three in the nearby town of Gros Morne.

"This is a catastrophe. It's really a major disaster," Haitian Interior Minister Paul Antoine Bien-Aime said on Wednesday from Gonaives in a radio interview.

He said the city was still flooded, hampering disaster and relief operations.

"There are a lot of people who have been on top of the roofs of their homes over 24 hours now. They have no water, no food and we can't even help them," Bien-Aime said.

Hanna has hovered off the coast of Haiti since late Monday, and it has also triggered widespread flooding in the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti.

The Miami-based hurricane center said Hanna was now edging slowing northward, with top winds of 60 mph, and seen moving over the central Bahamas in the next two days.

It was expected to make its U.S. landfall at the end of the week somewhere between Georgia and the Carolinas.

It was too early to say where Ike might go, after it churns through the Caribbean, but the storm has drawn the attention of energy companies running the 4,000 offshore platforms in the Gulf of Mexico that provide the United States with a quarter of its crude oil and 15 percent of its natural gas.

By late Wednesday morning, Josephine was swirling over the far eastern Atlantic about 305 miles west-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands. It was moving west at 10 mph with top sustained winds near 65 mph and was expected to start weakening by Friday.

(Additional reporting by Joseph Guyler Delvab in Haiti, writing by Tom Brown, editing by Jane Sutton and Vicki Allen)



Hanna becomes hurricane off Bahamas


MIAMI (AFP) - Tropical Storm Hanna on Monday developed into a full-fledged hurricane east of the Bahamas in the Atlantic ocean, US officials reported, as deadly Hurricane Gustav pounded the Gulf Coast near New Orleans.

Hanna becomes the fourth hurricane of the season," the National Hurricane Center reported in a bulletin, adding that the storm was very near Mayaguana Island in the southeastern Bahamas and packing winds near 75 miles (120 kilometers) per hour.

The NHC said hurricane warnings were issued for the Central Bahamas, Southeastern Bahamas and Turks and Caicos Islands, and that Hanna was churning west-southwest at five miles (seven kilometers) per hour, but was expected to turn northward in a direction of the southeaster US coast.

"Some additional strengthening is forecast during the next 24 hours" as it moves over the Bahamas -- notably Eleuthera and Abaco islands -- and produces up to 12 inches (25 centimeters) of rain through Thursday, it said.

By Friday it is projected to threaten the US coastline near near the Georgia-South Carolina border, giving the United States a second major cyclone to contend with in the same week.

On the Gulf of Mexico's US coast, ferocious rain and wind gusts unleashed by Hurricane Gustav threatened to send surge waters flooding into New Orleans three years after Katrina decimated the Louisiana city.

Also taking shape in the Atlantic Monday was Tropical Depression Nine, which formed about 1,470 miles (2,365 kilometers) east of the Leeward Islands, and was expected to travel slowly in a west-northwest direction.


8-31-08 -

Hanna to go back on the move, looking to S.C.

Update 7 p.m.: The evening update from NOAA focuses the “cone of uncertainty” smack dab on Hanna hitting Savannah Friday afternoon, but this will almost certainly change.

But it’s good reason to stay tuned.

Original story: After floating around the Atlantic for several days, and likely several more, Hanna is expected to find conditions that allow it to move northwest and strengthen into a hurricane.

The National Weather Service has this to say about where the storm might go:

The key to the forecast track at those forecast times will be just how far south and west hanna moves before it begins to move northwestward. Most of the model guidance keeps hanna over or just east of the Bahamas.

Read more stories on this subject in our tropical system topic page.There’s also some questions about the inner-workings of the storm and how much the storm might strengthen. While the storm could rapidly strengthen once it starts moving north, the National Weather Service wonders:

The intensity forecast has been held below all of the available model guidance due to the uncertainty of what the exact structure of hanna will be after the upcoming strong shear pattern abates in around 72 hours.

So, still lots of ifs and buts in the forecast. But at least we don’t have Gustav pointing our way.

Follow Hanna’s forecast at The National Weather Service and The Weather Underground.





Tropical storm Hanna could be a hurricane by Sunday

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Maximum sustained winds at the centre of tropical storm hanna are unchanged, at close to 50 mph, with higher gusts. Forecasters expect little change today, but say that Hanna could become a hurricane tomorrow.

At 1500 UTC, the centre of tropical storm Hanna was about 240 miles north of San Juan Puerto Rico and about 310 miles east of Grand Turk Island. Interests in the Turks and Caicos Islands and south eastern Bahamas should monitor Hanna’s progress. 

Hanna is moving west-northwest at close to 12 mph. A gradual turn to west-northwest is expected later today, followed by a swing back towards the west on Sunday.

Tropical storm force winds extend to about 115 miles from the centre, mainly to the northeast, and the estimated minimum central pressure is 1001 mb.

Rain bands, associated with Hannah could produce rainfall of 1 to 2 inches over parts of the Leeward Isles.