Cuba, Caribbean clean up devastating damage from Hurricane Irma

World Today

Cuba, Caribbean clean up devastating damage from Hurricane Irma

Monday morning in central Havana, workmen were out trying to secure a damaged building. Over the weekend, a balcony collapsed, crashing onto a bus and killing one of the passengers.

That passenger is just one of the 10 Hurricane Irma fatalities confirmed so far by the Cuban authorities.

Three of those killed were people who had refused to evacuate, and died when their homes crumbled. Much of Cuba’s housing infrastructure is old and in urgent need of repair.

CGTN’s Michael Voss reports.

Irma flooded many low-lying neighborhoods, and as the waters subside, residents are assessing the damage and trying to salvage what they can.

“Everything was flooded, the water rose right up to the pictures on the wall,” according to Patricia Cruz. “It was a really difficult moment, we have lost almost everything. Imagine the waves broke the glass door, everything exploded.”

The storm has now officially left Cuba, but the seas remain rough. It took 72 hours for the hurricane to travel its destructive path from one end of the island to the other, and only now is the full extent of the damage starting to emerge.

View of Havana’s Cojimar neighborhood on September 10, 2017. Residents of Cuba’s historic capital were waist-deep in floodwaters after Hurricane Irma, on its way to Florida, swept by, cutting off power and forcing the evacuation of more than a million people. (AFP PHOTO / YAMIL LAGE)

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, officials it will take billions of dollars to take care of the devastation.

The tiny island of Barbuda is almost uninhabitable, with 90 percent of its buildings damaged, according to its Prime Minister.

The damage is also extensive in St. Barts and St. Martin, with several fatalities also reported. As the islands face severe shortages of food, water, and medicine, looting and other attacks have been reported in the popular tourist spots.

The Dutch have sent troops to evacuate people to the Netherlands, while helping to maintain law and order. France is also boosting its police presence on the islands, in addition to sending rescue workers to help with the clean-up and deliver much-needed water and other aid.