Hurricane Ike was not as brutal for Providenciales, the main tourist island of the Turks and Caicos, than to three of the much smaller islands in the chain further south.

Over the weekend, the Category 4 hurricane battered the tiny islands of Grand Turk, Salt Cay and South Caicos, packing 135 mph winds that damaged more than 80% of the structures.

"The people got hit really, really bad," said Turks and Caicos Premier Michael Misick.

Two Royal Navy ships are en route to the Turks and Caicos, a British territory, to offer aid and supplies.
In Providenciales, damage was limited to debris clean-up, landscaping and some structural problems.

Caesar Campbell, executive director of the Turks and Caicos Hotel & Tourism Association, said that Providenciales’ 2,500 hotel rooms escaped major damage, and that properties closed for cleanup are expected to reopen by this weekend.

The airport in Providenciales will reopen Monday night with the arrival of an American Airlines flight from Miami, bringing emergency workers for the affected islands.

Ike also slammed Great Inagua on Sunday, the southernmost of the Bahamas Out Islands. It is sparsely populated but has the world's largest breeding colony of West Indian flamingos, birds that migrate throughout the Caribbean. Teams from the National Emergency Management Agency were headed to that region on Monday.

Meanwhile, Ike tore through Cuba on Monday as a Category 2 hurricane with 100 mph winds, blowing off roofs, toppling trees and flattening sugarcane fields. More than 9,000 visitors were evacuated from Cuba's Varadero beach resort area.

The storm was expected to move over western Cuba, including Havana, on Tuesday into the Gulf of Mexico, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Ike brushed by the northern coast of Haiti en route to Cuba, where more than 650,000 people have been made homeless by the effects of tropical storms Fay and Hanna and Hurricane Gustav in the past two weeks

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