The Miami Herald's Trenton Daniel reports from the Bahamas:
MATTHEW TOWN, Bahamas
When Bahamasair flight 422 flew just over the southeastern island of Great Inagua Monday afternoon, the pilot offered commentary on the scene below.
"This is not a pretty sight," the pilot radioed in.
The flight attendant weighed in with her own understatement.
"We do wish we could welcome you under more pleasant circumstance," she said over the radio.
The bird's eye view: Dozens of homes damaged, roofless, destroyed, telephone poles toppled, trees uprooted.
Authorities say nobody died when Hurricane Ike chewed up this island of 1,000 people. No other deaths were reported in the other islands. Damage was assessed to be not very extensive by government officials.
Upon landing at the airport in Matthew Town, about a hundred islanders lined up at the edge of the airport property, the boundary a sagging chain-linked fence. Shingles from the roof of the terminal, a one-room building, were ripped off, waiting chairs sprung from their hinges.
"Everything is flattened, total disaster, that's putting it mildly," Louis Farquharson, 50, said as he was about to board a Nassau-bound flight to join family on one of the northern islands. With no electricity on the island, he wanted to leave so he could wire money to his daughter, a scholarship college student in Nova Scotia.
But for all the steeple-less churches, foundation-less homes, and toppled coconut trees in Matthew Town, a mood that could be described not as despair or resignation but as acceptance strangely prevailed over this ruined island. Islanders relied on a sense of gallows humor.
"Tell Ike that Tina wasn't here I guess that's why he was so upset," Nicholas Lindo, 39, a fisherman said about the celebrity couple known for their domestic battles.
One newly rendered homeless man noted how trees on the ground served one useful purpose.
"It's easy to eat coconuts," Vincent Cartwright, 66, said as he snacked on the fruit. We got it bad here we're all mashed up."
Volunteers from the Red Cross were also on the plane. One volunteer said the agency was bringing a small supply of food, water, and hygiene kits.
It was not clear when or how the Red Cross distributed such supplies Monday afternoon.