Friends' dream holiday hit by hurricane

A GROUP of friends have told how their dream holiday to Cuba was wrecked when Hurricane Ike battered their hotel, smashing windows and tearing the roof off.

John Howard

A GROUP of friends have told how their dream holiday to Cuba was wrecked when Hurricane Ike battered their hotel, smashing windows and tearing the roof off.

The six former Stowmarket High School pupils, aged 19 and 20, feared they could die as the storm tore across Cuba.

By Tuesday at least four people had lost their lives in the country as the 80mph winds and torrential rains pummelled the region. Some two million people were also forced from their homes and so much rain fell that authorities warned of life-threatening flash floods and mudslides.

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Carl Farrow and his girlfriend Heidi Cable, Chris Jenks, Sam Clarke, Lewis Stannard and Jon Cracknell were evacuated from their luxury four-star hotel Brisas after fears the basement where guests were preparing to shelter would flood.

They were moved to another hotel and were ordered to stay in the bathrooms for shelter and kept away from windows.

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Mr Farrow, a team leader at Tesco in Stowmarket, now expects tour operator Thomas Cook to compensate him and his friends for their ordeal last weekend.

Mr Farrow, who is now back home from his stay in Guardalavaca after a nine-hour flight, said: “We had four days of heaven enjoying snorkelling and water polo, and four days of hell.

“The roof was off reception, some of the ceilings had come off, raw sewage was pouring into the sea from the hotel, there was nowhere to wash as the water supply was intermittent, the toilets would not flush for hours.

“There was rubble to be cleared away and the hotel started to stink, although they managed to keep the bar open and food for us, and did all they could.”

Miss Cable, a customer assistant at Asda in Stowmarket, said: “It was terrifying, I have never been through anything as bad as this my life. As we hid in the bathroom we could hear windows smashing and the wind racing through the corridors when the windows came in.

“The electricity was coming on and off, there was water everywhere, we were slipping about in the dark, it was horrific.

“After the storm had gone could just hear metal sheets scraping. When we went down to reception the roof had come off and I am still shaken up by this.”

A spokeswoman for Thomas Cook, the tour operator, said: “We are currently writing to all our customers whose holidays were cut short by Hurricane Ike with refund details so Mr Farrow should be hearing from us shortly.”

Cuban media reported widespread damage throughout the eastern provinces and images of toppled trees, destroyed homes, downed power lines and flooded towns have been shown on state-run television.

Some parts of the island were swamped by up to ten inches of rain, with rivers swelling and huge waves along the coast.

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