Cuba Recovering from Hurricane
The people I talked to in Havana had differing opinions of the approaching hurricane Irma. “No big deal, they always turn before reaching Havana” seemed to be the prevailing opinion, but a few people said that it would be bad. It turned out to be bad, but it looks lie Cuba recovering from Hurricane Irma.
The image above was taken from the Atlantic.com.
It did turn out to be bad. Crumbling old infrastructure doesn’t hold up well under storms, especially in cities right on the sea. Unfortunately, being an island, most of Cuba is along the sea. See my posts on Flooding in Havana and Waves on the Malecon.
I am used to people talking tough before a storm. Often times you have no choice, you can’t easily go elsewhere, so you make light of it and wish for the best. I could return home to Houston though, so I did.
Cubans are tough people; an email from Casa Deysi, where my son and I stayed in Habana Centro, said they did get water but all is good. Cubans are cryptic…few details.
The storm was bad with tremendous damages all over the island, however the country seems to be recovering fast. BBC News compares the preparation and recovery of Cuba vs Puerto Rico. I quote the article below:
If Hurricane Irma hitting Cuba and Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico had one thing in common it was that – despite ample warning – they seemed to take many by surprise.
It was an odd similarity given the long lag-time between the storms forming and making landfall on the two islands. While certainly accustomed to living through hurricanes, people in both capitals, Havana and San Juan, were perhaps guilty of a degree of complacency on this occasion.
“It’s going to head north before it reaches us,” was the blithely confident comment I heard from several residents in Havana before Irma struck. Others simply thought it would lose most of its power by the time it reached the Cuban capital.
They were proved wrong in devastating fashion.
A week later, Puerto Ricans certainly knew Maria was going to be bad as she was bearing down on them, yet many did little or nothing to prepare for the worst. The day before the hurricane arrived, I was struck by the absence of queues for emergency supplies or bottled water.
As the days pass, however, it is the differing response to the two disasters that stands out. In Cuba, brigades of emergency services, hordes of police and firemen, as well as thousands of state employees, were in the streets of Havana from the moment it was safe to be out.
Despite the lack of adequate materials, teams with chainsaws arrived to remove the worst of the felled trees and clear much of the debris. The Cuban capital was largely without power or water for five insufferable days. After that first week, though, most of the island regained power relatively quickly.
Puerto Ricans are currently looking at a lot longer before the electricity comes back. Definitely weeks, possibly months.
So pleased are the Cuban government with its reaction that they and some of the big tour operators have started to tweet pictures of the main tourist beaches in resorts like Varadero, showing them freshly cleaned and open for business again.
An article today in Granma also shows Cuba recovering from hurricane. It reports that 99% of power has been restored as of 9/27 and 100% will be done by the 30th. Quote below:
Over 99% of clients nationwide now have power following Hurricane Irma, reported Lázaro Guerra Hernández, technical director of the country’s Electrical Union (UE), speaking to Cubadebate; noting that works to reestablish power throughout the island should conclude by September 30.
“This has been possible thanks to the support we’ve had from the mixed brigades, which together with UE staff have worked non-stop over recent days. We are talking about 764 people who have been working every day across each of the most affected areas,” he stated.
Guerra highlighted that Villa Clara and Ciego de Ávila continue to suffer the worst damage, above all in coastal areas which were severely impacted by the hurricane.
“At this time, Camajuaní, Remedios, and Encrucijada are the most affected municipalities in Villa Clara. 191 UE workers are laboring there to restore power as soon as possible. Meanwhile, the municipalities of Chambas, Bolivia, and Ciro Redondo suffered the most damage in Ciego,” he explained.
Despite the extent of damage, directors of the Electrical Union assured that work in the affected provinces should conclude by September 30.
So again, I wish the people of Cuba well and that they recover quickly.