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Quick Guide & Transcript: Hurricane Rita, Lessons from Cuba?


September 21, 2005

Quick Guide

Hurricane Rita - Chase down some of the latest details on Hurricane Rita and visit an area that recently weathered the storm.

Lessons from Cuba - Learn what kinds of measures the Cuban government takes to protect citizens during a hurricane.

Simon Wiesenthal - Remember a man who suffered at the hands of Nazis and then worked for decades to bring them to justice.



MONICA LLOYD, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: You've found CNN Student News on this Wednesday, September 21st! From the CNN Center in Atlanta, I'm Monica Lloyd. It passed between Miami and Havana, and now it's spinning through the Gulf. Where could Rita be headed, and how strong could this hurricane get? It's seen some serious damage, but remarkably few casualties from hurricanes. How does communist Cuba keep its people safe from storms? And he dedicated his life to bringing former Nazi war criminals, to justice. Join us as we remember Simon Wiesenthal.

First Up: Hurricane Rita

LLOYD: Forecasters raised the warning flag yesterday that Hurricane Rita, at the time a category two storm, could strengthen to a category four hurricane by this afternoon. The warm water of the Gulf of Mexico, which the system entered after passing near the Florida Keys, can act like high-octane fuel for a hurricane. Here was the scene Tuesday from Key West, where storm surge flooding was as high as six feet above normal. Officials weren't sure exactly where Rita would next make landfall, but everywhere from northern Mexico to Katrina-battered Louisiana, was on alert.

Key Largo is about 90 miles east of Key West and that's where Dan Lothian caught up with some folks who weathered Hurricane Rita. Here's what he saw.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN REPORTER: When you mix a powerful storm surge and a high tide, this is what can happen.

EYEWITNESS: Once it came over the seawall, agh, I'd say, in 15 minutes it started waking, one to two foot chop.

LOTHIAN: An Oceanside mobile home park in Islamorada just off highway one near Key Largo, pounded by Hurricane Rita...

EYEWITNESS: Oh yes, everything flooded...

LOTHIAN: swamped by the rising waters. John and Jackie Hanna returned to their home to survey the damage after evacuating on Monday.

JACKIE HANNA, FLORIDA RESIDENT: We went to a condo. We got out to get someplace a little bit higher.

JOHN HANNA, FLORIDA RESIDENT: About 10:30 our friends called us, said ..(John) It really came up fast.

LOTHIAN: Firefighters waded through the park, going door to door, searching for anyone who might be stranded. Most here had apparently heeded the mandatory evacuation order. But not Gary Manning. He had decided to ride out the storm. When the water started rising, Manning attached his boat, started up his RV, and did what the owners of these fixed mobile homes could not do....he drove to higher ground.

GARY MANNING, FLORIDA RESIDENT:"I brought everything out."

LOTHIAN: Further south on Highway One, more water flows into a motel and its nearby cottages. Hurricane Rita, intensifying, leaving plenty of water damage in its wake.



CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS REPORTER: Time for the Shoutout! Check out this map. What is this body of water called? If you think you know it, shout it out! Is it: A) Gulf of Mexico B) Mediterranean Sea C) Bering Strait D) Caribbean Sea You've got three seconds -- GO! It's the Caribbean Sea, which covers an area of more than one million square miles. That's your answer and that's your Shoutout!

Lessons from Cuba

LLOYD: You hear a lot about evacuations as a hurricane nears; yesterday, the mayor of Galveston, Texas -- where Rita could be headed -- declared a state of emergency in that city. She also said mandatory evacuations will start today. In Cuba, which sits on the northern edge of the Caribbean Sea, the government usually has strict guidelines in place for hurricanes. Lucia Newman went to the island nation to bring us this story about Cuba's secrets for saving lives.


LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN REPORTER: Cuba is the largest and most populated island in the Caribbean yet is consistently experiences the lowest death tolls during hurricane season. According to United Nations, it's not because Cubans are lucky but because they're prepared.

"We were prepared for a big one, and big it was," says this man of Hurricane Ivan. He and nearly 2 million others were evacuated from low lying areas and fragile buildings ahead of the hurricane. Nobody was killed.

Preparations for a hurricane start well in advance. The same system that gives the communist state total political and economic control is used efficiently to mobilize the nation to face natural disasters.

State run television and the civil defense authority bombard the population with information and instructions about what measures to take. On every block, there's a person assigned to take a census on who is being evacuated to which shelter, with special attention paid to the elderly and pregnant women.

"We have a list, and tell each person where they have to go and there, they're taken care of," says Llance Perez.

In the fishing village of La Coloma, which is vulnerable to hurricane flooding, a massive evacuation was mandatory. The police and army was responsible for guaranteeing there was no looting. Electricity is cut ahead of the hurricane to prevent electrocutions.

After Hurricane Ivan, the seaside village of Las Canas looked like a ghost town. Its residents evacuated days earlier. But while many lost much of their belongings, at least no one had to cry over the loss of a loved one. Lucia Newman, CNN, Havana.


Fast Facts

AZUZ: Time for some Fast Facts! World War II

Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939 started what would become World War II and it wasn't until six years later that the war was over. It pitted the Axis powers, headed up by Germany, Italy, and Japan, against the Allied powers, which included the U.S., the Soviet Union, and Britain. More than 16-million U.S. troops served in the conflict, and more than 405-thousand of those lost their lives.

Simon Wiesenthal

LLOYD: During World War II, Germany's Nazi regime carried out mass killings of unarmed civilians in what became known as the Holocaust. At least six million Jews perished, in addition to several million others whom the Nazis opposed. After the war, a survivor of two Nazi concentration camps turned the tide against his former captors. Guy Raz tells us the story of Simon Wiesenthal, who passed away yesterday after 96 years of life.


GUY RAZ, CNN REPORTER: During his four years inside Nazi concentration camps, Simon Wiesenthal vowed to remember the names of his torturers. He almost never doubted he'd make it out alive....And when he did, at the age of 37, Wiesenthal embarked on a six-decades-long journey to track down the men and women who carried out -the Holocaust. His one-man detective agency helped gather evidence that led to the trials of more than 1,000 former Nazi war criminals.

The most famous, among them, Adolf Eichman...the Commandant of Auschwitz...who was brought to trial in Jerusalem in 1961 and given the only death penalty ever imposed in Israel.

...Wiesenthal had tracked Eichman down in Argentina...where the former Nazi official lived under an assumed name for fifteen years.

ROBERT ROZETT, YAD VASHEM: "He would believe that there is really no statute of limitations on these crimes and we have to continue to pursue those who perpetrated these crimes as long as they are alive."

RAZ: Notorious war criminals like Stangl, Veesenmayer, Rauter...none could escape the determination of Simon Wiesenthal. Neither could Karl Silberbauer...the Nazi officer who arrested Anne Frank...Wiesenthal's main regret was his failure to capture the infamous Nazi doctor, Josef Mengele...whose human experiments led to the deaths of thousands.

Later in life, Wiesenthal would devote his life to teaching tolerance...he spoke at the united nations in 1995 on the dangers of internet hate sites.

SIMON WIESENTHAL, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: "Technology without hate can be so beneficial for mankind, but in conjunction with hatred, it leads to disaster."

RAZ: Simon Wiesenthal's legacy lives on at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, which also bears his name.

In a recent interview, he said, "The only value of my work is a warning to the murderers of tomorrow...That they will never rest."

Guy Raz, CNN, Jerusalem



LLOYD: Maybe you'd like to teach your class a little more about Simon Wiesenthal, but don't have the time to comb the internet for information. Well, we've got you covered! Head to, and find some useful links in the "resources" box on the lower right-hand side of our front page.

Before We Go

LLOYD: Before we go... Maybe the name super-man is misleading since the subject of this story is a dog. But his owner, who had to leave him behind during the New Orleans evacuation, had a super idea: He tore off part of his T-shirt, wrote his contact information on it, and tied it around superman's neck. The dog was eventually rescued and flown to California, where the t-shirt helped authorities contact his human companion.


LLOYD: And that reunited a man and his best friend! For CNN Student News, I'm Monica Lloyd. More Headline News is headed your way.

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