Cuba tries to recover after Hurricane Irma hits northern coast

World Today

Cuba begins recovery after its northeast coast was hit by Hurricane Irma. The island’s capital and surroundings suffered heavy rains and flooding.

Amazingly, there are no confirmed deaths so far. CGTN’s Michael Voss is in Havana with more.

Hurricane Irma may have moved on to Florida but it didn’t leave Cuba behind. In Havana, conditions deteriorated overnight. And by Sunday morning, the capitol was being pounded by seven to nine meter waves.

The sea water penetrated several blocks from the coast. It left entire neighborhoods underwater. The whole city was without electricity for about 24 hours.

“It’s been a huge catastrophe, my home and my business, everything is ruined. I’m a self-employed carpenter, I tried to raise things but the water came too fast and too high. Everything is wet,” said one of the residents.

The police closed the seafront boulevard, the Malecon. But some young people, who can’t remember previous hurricanes, risked their live laying in the water, unaware of how dangerous it could be.

The winds finally started to ease and people were coming out into the streets to access the damage and try to unblock the drains. But the waves are still pounded the seafront and it could take some time before the floods recede.

Hurricane Irma was the most powerful storm to hit Cuba since the 1930’s. In those regions which took a direct hit, from its destructive hurricane force winds along with driving rain and storm surges, the damage is more severe.

Three of the central northern provinces, Vida Clara, Ciego de Avila, and Camaguey had all suffered widespread structural damage to homes and businesses, with winds uprooting trees and knocking out power lines.

The storm surges left the fishing community of Caibarien underwater with sea water penetrating half a kilometer from the coast.

Crops had also been damaged with Irma dropping between 100 and 200 millimeters of rain in places but the full extent of the damage as yet to emerge.