Ordinary people across the Caribbean are digging deep into their pockets to help storm-wracked Britain to recover from the trauma of localised flooding, fallen branches and loose roof tiles.
Cuba’s television screens – those that were still connected to a working electricity supply, and not under several feet of floodwater – were filled with shocking graphic images of mangled folding brollies lying uncollected and rotting in Britain’s storm-ravaged streets.
“Like a million or so of my fellow Cubans, I missed the broadcast as I am currently sheltering with my family on high ground under a blanket, away from the inconvenience of Hurricane Ike,” said tobacco-roller Maria Gutierrez. “However, I heard on the radio about the suffering of the British people, and my heart goes out to them. I shall be sending a week’s wages to help. I hope my 80 pesos will bring tears of joy to somebody who is on the verge of giving up hope. Is £2 a lot of money in Britain?”
Over in Haiti, dishevelled bean-planter Jorge Domingo took a break from burying his drowned family to carry their waterlogged clothes to the British consulate, in the hope that they might alleviate the plight of someone in the north of England whose umbrella has been destroyed by the merciless gales.
“I know what it is like to shiver in the pouring rain,” he told reporters, “Our plywood shack was demolished when the river burst its banks in a raging torrent and a wall of water roared through our shanty town, carrying off my wife and children along with several of my neighbours. But I give thanks to God that I will never know the heart-rending misery of seeing a tree fall on my shiny new car. How do you pick up your life after that? I can’t imagine.”
Meanwhile, weather forecasters back in the UK announced that more rain is expected today, although they said it is unlikely to be as inconvenient as the weekend’s downpours. In answer to yesterday’s pleading front-page headline from the Daily Mirror – “WILL IT EVER STOP RAINING?” - a Met Office spokesman in Exeter replied, “Yes.”