Hurricane Ike heads for Cuba and Gulf
Ferocious Hurricane Ike ripped off roofs in the southern Bahamas on Sunday and Cuba scrambled to move hundreds of thousands of people inland, away from a storm eventually headed toward the U.S. Gulf oil patch and possibly New Orleans.
A dangerous Category 4 hurricane with 135 mph (215 kph) winds and a possible 18-foot (5.5 meter) storm surge, Ike bore down on Cuba's northeast coast after raging through Britain's Turks and Caicos, an overseas territory of about 22,000 people, and Great Inagua, the Bahamas' southernmost island.
"This one is quite severe," said Inagua resident Shanie Roker. "There is a lot of wind and rain. Roofs in Matthew Town are being damaged and trees are coming down."
Residents of the Florida Keys, a 110-mile (177-km) island chain connected by bridges with only one road out, were told to evacuate as a precaution.
Ike could follow a path similar to that of Hurricane Gustav through the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana and Texas, possibly threatening New Orleans, the city swamped by Katrina three years ago, and the Gulf energy rigs, which account for a quarter of U.S. oil and 15 percent of natural gas output, Reuters reported.