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Hurricane Ike had a life long before it hit Texas

PUBLISHED: 11:11 22 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:24 07 September 2010

You might not have known it from the media coverage, but the devastating Hurricane Ike had a life before it made landfall in Texas. The damage Ike did in the Lone Star State was savage enough, but while the world s media seemed interested only in its imp

You might not have known it from the media coverage, but the devastating Hurricane Ike had a life before it made landfall in Texas.

The damage Ike did in the Lone Star State was savage enough, but while the world's media seemed interested only in its impact in the US, I had already been receiving regular messages from friends in Cuba, where it had unleashed its terrifying force on the beautiful Caribbean island days before it hit Texas.

Around this time last year, I was fortunate to be holidaying in Cuba. Now the hotel I stayed in has been wiped off the face of the earth. Worse, many friendly Cubanas who made my stay so memorable are out of work, trying to repair their homes and their shattered lives without the benefit of the meagre income their tourist jobs afforded.

One newly-found friend sent a lengthy message describing the extent of the damage, then apologetically admitted that her family's main concern was finding a way of replacing the windows and doors in their own home.

Cuba is among a group of Caribbean islands that take a pounding from hurricanes every year. To be fair, the authorities there are well versed in ensuring that the loss of life is minimised. On this occasion, from what I'm told, the evacuation plans were executed in a calm, orderly and highly efficient manner.

But Ike was a monster and the damage caused to homes and businesses was immense. It will take many months for the worst-affected parts of the island to recover.

So why is it that we hear so little about hurricanes until they are spinning their way towards Florida or Louisiana? America is the wealthiest country in the world, and yet the hurricane season there still leaves a legacy of abject misery behind it. What must it be like for inhabitants of impoverished countries?

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