Some hurricane survival stories from Cuba
Posted: 15 September 2008 08:34 PM   [ Ignore ]
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From Cuba blog, sorry but I don’t remember where. Not me speaking below.


When things were starting to calm down a little after this summer of tropical storms and hurricanes from Fay to Ike—enough that at least some friends would be able to receive and answer an email—I wrote and asked friends in various provinces to write and tell me how they, their neighbors and others were doing.

The responses, obviously, were not from those hardest hit—they don’t even have homes, much less electricity to run their computers, if they ever had one. The people who could get my email and answer were those whose homes and offices hadn’t been badly damaged and were living or working in places where electricity and phone service (Cuban email is still via dial-up connections) had been restored. So not surprisingly, after assuring me that they, their families, and mutual friends were all ok, each wrote expressing their serious concern for the rest of the country. One thing was abundantly clear from everyone: this was NOT “just another hurricane”. The word that appeared most commonly was “devastated”.

Here are some excepts:

From: “eva dumenigo” (Havana, Tricontinental Magazine, OSPAAAL (Africa, Asia & Latin America Solidarity Org)

Date: Thursday, September 11, 2008


Thanks for your concern. At OSPAAAL and the Tricontinental Magazine everything’s ok, and the same for us and our families. I con only tell you that the country is devastated, homes destroyed. We don’t have email connection at the magazine because the phone lines are down, but I will send you more details as soon as it becomes possible. The situation is alarming in terms of the destruction of school, commercial centers , in all the famages are enormous. A hug and once again many thanks for all the aid and solidarity with my people.

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From: “Maria Julia Fernandez”

Date: Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hello friend, how good it is to hear from you. What has happened in the country has been catastrophic. The damage won’t be overcome for a long time. I can’t even imagine how we are going to emerge from all this. To my way of thinking what has occurred is going to be worse than the harshest years of the Special Period. The damages haven’t been completed calculated yet but they will be in the billions.

Fortunately we are ok. (Referring to family and co-workers at the AIDS-STDs Information and Education Center). I will write you from work next Monday because my PC at home has problems with the screen and I can barely read what I am writing you.


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Arleen Rodriguez Derivet, journalist, Mesa Redonda

Thursday, September 11, 2008 (Havana)

Dear Sister: The country is devastated. We need everything, but it would be enough just to lift the blockade, which Bush and Rice have already said they won’t do. I imagine they are rejoicing that Nature has done their work for them. In terms of solidarity what would be most effective would be to focus on demanding the lifting of the blockade….Here in Havana we are ok, some zones are without electricity due to broken transformers, since there aren’t enough for the whole country right now, but we are well off compared to the provinces of Holguin, Las Tunas, Granma, Pinar del Rio and the Isle of Youth, that is, the whole rest of the country. Thanks for everything….


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Maria Carla once again wrote in English from Havana (I sent one of her messages a few days ago):

Karen,
I got my phone back only today, electricity back yesterday, but there are still people in the city without either. Ike was not bad here in Havana, but the winds and rains AFTER it left, which means all of Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday, was TERRIBLE.

But nothing in comparison to what has happened to the rest of the country, rains, floods, roofless homes (which will keep on losing their roofs if we keep roofing with shingles and corrugated paper/cardboard!), and agriculture is in a dramatic situation, for the time being they are selling what has been salvaged from the ground but the next 3-4 months are going to be very very hard for everyone.

You have no idea all the elements that came out to help: MINFAR, MININT, firemen, special troops for the rescue of flooded people , policemen 24 hours a day, and all the other organizations you know about have been sharing homes, food, psychological support [...] Communications have been difficult, only two TV channels, but extremely detailed and well organized information about the whole country for the rest of the country, so no one would feel they were the worse off. You could FEEL the unity between everyone, solidarity as you have felt it, really incredible.

Bad news from Las Terrazas, flooded, 400 mililiters of rain, they were going to have a grand reopening this Monday and what they got was The Great Flood. I have no direct news [...] Personally, I think that what this country needs are building materials and tinnned [canned] food.
Thanks for your support, I know you [folks] are going to get things going.

Mariacarla


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Other messages from Santiago de Cuba were similar—my friends were ok, their homes intact, but a lot of anguish and concern over what was happening to people all over the other provinces…. more updates as they come in.

———————————————-


From: “Mariacarla”
To: “Karen Lee Wald”
Subject: Re: mandeme noticias por favor
Date: Thursday, September 11, 2008 6:32 PM

Karen,

I got my phone back only today, electricity back yesterday, but there are still people in the city without either. Ike was not bad here in Havana, but the winds and rains AFTER it left, which means all of Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday was TERRIBLE.

But nothing in comparison to what has happened to the rest of the country, rains, floods, roofless homes (which will keep on losing their roofs if we keep roofing with shingles and corrugated paper/cardboard!), and agriculture is in a dramatic situation, for the time being they are selling what has been salvaged from the ground but the next 3-4 months are going to be very very hard for everyone.

You have no idea all the elements that came out to help: MINFAR, MININT, firemen, special troops for the rescue of flooded people , policemen 24 hours a day, and all the other organizations you know about have been sharing homes, food, psychological support (Calviņo circulated an extremely interesting message which I will forward). Communicatio ns have been difficult, only two TV channels, but extremely detailed and well organized information about the whole country for the rest of the country, so no one would feel they were the worse off. You could FEEL the unity between everyone, solidarity as you have felt it, really incredible.

Bad news from Las Terrazas, flooded, 400 mililiters of rain, they were going to have a grand reopening this Monday and what they got was The Great Flood. I have no direct news nor do I want to clog Osmany’s computer.

Personally, I think that what this country needs are building materials and tinnned food.

Thanks for your support, I know you are going to get things going.

Mariacarla

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