Ike Devastates Turks and Caicos; Strikes Cuba as a Cat 3
“It pretty much looks like an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone,’ ” Audley Aftwood, a reporter for a radio station on Grand Turk Island, told CNN. “It’s like the end of the world.” Aftwood said at least 90 percent of homes he saw on the island were missing roofs and hundreds, if not thousands, of people have been made homeless. “This is definitely similar to Katrina in New Orleans or worse,” Aftwood said. “It’s going to take years to bring this island back to the way it was.”
The CNN report can been seen here.
Ike is expected to enter the oil-producing Gulf of Mexico as a severe Category 4 storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency said during a news conference on Sunday. “It looks like it will be a very severe storm,” Bob Powers, FEMA deputy assistant administrator for disaster operations said, as reported by Reuters.
Florida officials were making preparations in the lower Florida Keys, including Key West, where tourists were told to leave starting at 8 a.m. Eastern today. Residents of the Upper Keys and mainland Monroe County began evacuating at 4 p.m. Eastern today. Keys residents can evacuate their pets to a shelter at Florida International University as long as the pet is properly caged, Monroe County Emergency Management Director Irene Toner said in a statement.
About 15,000 tourists left the area Saturday as a hurricane watch was issued for the Florida Keys from Ocean Reef southward, Key West Mayor Morgan McPherson told CNN.
“If it tracks toward Florida instead of heading over to Cuba, it will become too late to evacuate,” Powers said.
The projected five-day National Hurricane Center forecast shows that there is a chance that the storm could strike southern Louisiana, which was hit by Hurricane Gustav last week. But at this point there are no guarantees as to exactly what course the storm would take.
“The storms can take a variety of courses and we’ll be prepared for all of those,” Powers said.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on Sunday already issued a state of emergency declaration for Louisiana.
Jindal’s declaration states that “Hurricane Ike may impact the coastal parishes of Louisiana with hurricane strength winds, wave surges, high tides, torrential rain and tornado activity. The storm may make landfall on the Louisiana coast on or about September 13, 2008, with the expectation that hurricane force winds will reach the Louisiana coast prior to landfall.” The declaration is in effect until Oct. 5.