3316 28th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta

For Immediate Distribution!

Recently several island states in the Caribbean suffered immense devastation, the result of two major hurricanes. Worst hit was Cuba, where in late August Hurricane Gustav, considered to be the most destructive of the last sixty years, ravaged both cities and countryside. Its early stages flooded much of eastern Cuba; it then grew in strength and size and demolished the special municipality of the Isle of Youth and invaded Pinar del Rio, Cuba's most westerly province, with wind gusts to 350 kmh raking both Havana and Matanzas.

But ten days later worse was yet to afflict this brave island and its people: still reeling from Gustav, Cuba was to lose even more of its infrastructure as Hurricane Ike battered its way from one end of the island to the other, leaving an even greater panorama of destruction.
It was as if two wars had been fought within two weeks: parked cars and buses sent flying; roads washed out and bridges collapsed; cisterns and tin roofs ripped from buildings; houses, schools, clinics, and recreation centres leveled; trees uprooted and rivers frothing in torrents and overflowing their banks; communication towers, high tension wires, and telephone lines lying in tangles on the wet ground; family gardens smashed flat; seawater pushed more than five kilometers inland by storm surges.

Accounts of large-scale damage are even more disturbing: Cuba’s agricultural sector is in ruins – tobacco plantations ravaged; bananas, avocados, mangos, and other citrus fruit blown to the ground to rot; sugar cane and coffee plantations massively affected. Hundreds of thousands of farm animals – poultry, pigs, and cattle – were drowned or otherwise killed. The country’s warehouses were damaged, exposing over 4000 tons of stored supplies and commodities, such as rice, sugar, and flour, to the elements. Irrigation equipment was ruined and much of Cuba’s fishing industry – boats, equipment, and docks – was gravely hurt. 440,000 houses were affected, with 63,000 totally destroyed, leaving at least 200,000 people homeless.

More than 300,000 people were evacuated to safe shelter, and another 2.6 million citizens – 25% of the population – sought alternative sources of refuge. Fortunately, during all this mayhem, not a single Cuban life was lost.

Nevertheless, the cost to Cuba is enormous: preliminary estimates of economic losses are close to 8% of GDP --upwards of six billion dollars.

This loss can be seen in the image of Olga Atiaga, a 53-year-old housewife, who said to officials, “Gustav tore off my roof and some walls. Then a few days later Ike smashed my kitchen sink and blew away my mattress. Now I don't even have anything to sleep on."

Canadians are well-known for helping others who find themselves in unfortunate circumstances, and Calgarians are among the most generous of Canadians: the local CCFA is organizing a fund-raising event to help provide funds for hurricane relief and reconstruction in Cuba.

Please join us for the following social activity:

Cuban Fiesta
Date: Saturday, October 18
Time: 7:30pm
Place: Ukrainian Cultural Centre (3316 28th Ave. SW)
Admission: $10 (includes entertainment; food, drink, raffles, etc. will be extra)

Remember: all funds raised will be donated to help the Cuban people devastated by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. All donations over $10 will receive a tax receipt!

Note: should you wish further information or, if you are unable to attend this Fiesta but would like to donate to this humanitarian effort, please call Jan Tarasoff at 403-289-4689

Added by ezekial on October 1, 2008

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