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Posted August 17, 2004 by publisher in Cuban Culture

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By Gabriela Donoso | Reuters

City workers distributed water in tanker trucks and urged some 1.4 million residents of the Cuban capital with no running water on Monday to remain calm four days after Hurricane Charley roared through the area.

A government official in a car with loudspeakers on the roof urged residents to conserve water and said it could take several days to restore services to 70 percent of the city with no water.

The Aguas de La Habana water company said the hurricane had disrupted power supplies needed to pump water into the city of 2 million from outlying areas and eight Havana districts were without running water.

Engineers worked to rebuild eight high-voltage towers knocked down by Charley outside a thermoelectric power plant at the port of Mariel that feeds Havana and the western province of Pinar del Rio.

The water shortage angered Havana residents who were forced to line up at tanker trucks and carry water home in pails.

“We have very serious water problems. Four days have gone by and there is no sign they are solving this situation,” said a 60-year-old man who filled a pail.

“Municipal services are too slow. People are complaining, but discreetly, because protests don’t pay in Cuba,” he added.

In the hillside El Cerro district, residents complained they had been without water and electricity since late Thursday.

Some residents filled plastic containers from a puddle in the street formed by a broken pipe.

“We have never been affected so much. True, the hurricane passed through the city, but four days without light and water is pure incompetence on the government’s part,” said an angry 25-year-old man who asked not to be named.

Charley hit Cuba with 105-mph winds, killing four people and damaging 40,000 homes when it barreled through Havana province and the western side of Havana on Friday.

President Fidel Castro’s economically strapped, communist-run government has deployed soldiers to clear away tree trunks blocking main thoroughfares and brought teams of electrical workers from other provinces to repair downed power lines.

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