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Posted September 01, 2008 by publisher in Cuba Human Rights

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By Jeff Franks | Reuters

Cuba said on Monday more than 90,000 houses were damaged or destroyed when Hurricane Gustav tore through the western province of Pinar del Rio on Saturday with 150 mile per hour (240 km per hour) winds.

Officials and state media said 80 percent of the province, which has about 750,000 residents, was without power after Gustav knocked down 80 high-tension towers with cables that distribute electricity throughout the region.

State-run news agency AIN, in a story quoting Cuban vice president Carlos Lage, said 53 percent of the homes in the hardest hit areas were affected, most of them suffering roof damage.

No deaths have been reported from the storm, which passed into the Gulf of Mexico after crossing Cuba and on Monday struck Louisiana, near New Orleans, on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Power lines were knocked down throughout the stricken area in Cuba, many of them draping across roads and highways.

The tall, metal towers supporting the main electricity cables could be seen lying crumpled across the palm-studded landscape.

On state television, Lage said during a trip to the worst-hit Pinar del Rio towns that power supply was a “very grave and urgent problem.”

“It doesn’t have to do with repairing a few towers, it has to do with constructing a new electricity network, because much of the network is on the ground,” he said.

But Lage said electricity should be restored more quickly than in past storms because of diesel generators installed around the country in recent years.

He also said electricity workers from around Cuba had been brought in to speed repair of the system.

An official for the state electric company said on state television that power had been completely knocked out on the Isle of Youth and would take some time to restore.

AIN quoted the local electricity director on the island, which is about 40 miles off Cuba’s southwestern coast and took a direct hit from Gustav, as saying 120 miles of power lines had been downed.

Television reports showed widespread devastation on the island, which has about 86,000 residents. A report on national radio said more than 40 percent of the housing had been damaged and the main hospital was closed.

State television said tobacco warehouses in Pinar del Rio, the main growing region for Cuba’s famed tobacco, had been damaged.

AIN also reported heavy damages to hotels and thousands of buildings in Pinar del Rio’s Vinales valley, a popular international tourist destination known for its dramatic rocky outcrops and traditional architecture.

(Editing by Michael Christie and Mohammad Zargham)

  1. Follow up post #1 added on September 01, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    My math has 600,000 without power in Pinar del Rio and 86,000 without power on the Isla de la Juventud and with damage to 40% of the houses there.

    That is a devastating catastrophe.

    I would hope the the US and other governments offer unconditional support to help the Cuban people.

    Cuba consulting services

  2. Follow up post #2 added on September 01, 2008 by manfredz with 464 total posts

    here’s what granma had to say:
    According to preliminary figures from Puig, only 19 people were reported with injuries, none life-threatening, while the total of people protected was 467,000, of whom around 61,000 were transferred to shelters. Of the evacuees, 77% live in Pinar del Río, the Isle of Youth and the Habana provinces.

    In relation to damage to the electricity services, Vicente La O, director of the Electric Union, said that in this sphere the greatest damage was likewise reported on the Isle of Youth and in Pinar del Río, particularly in the Los Palacios, Consolación del Sur, Bahía Honda, Candelaria and San Cristóbal municipalities, the closest to the trajectory of Gustav’s center.

    He said that 100% of the electric circuit in Pinar del Río was affected and the entire system will have be to reconstructed, hence the situation there is very complex.

    In the particular case of Pinar del Río, de La O reported that 136 high tension towers had been brought down by the extremely strong winds, plus a further 12 of the 110-volt lines.

    He particularly highlighted the 500 emergency generators installed in this westernmost province as a back up to the basic services.

    The capital was much less affected and problems were basically related to fallen trees and branches. Virtually nobody was evacuated, gas services have been virtually restored and 80% of the electric circuits were already working by the afternoon, Davíd Lahera, member of the Provincial Defense Council reported.

    During the Roundtable program, contact was made with Olga Lidia Tapia Iglesias and Ana Isa Delgado, presidents of the Defense Councils in Pinar del Río and the Isle of Youth, respectively. After assessing the damage left by the hurricane, they emphasized the people’s confidence in the Revolution and the optimism of residents in those areas who have already joined the recuperation efforts en masse.

    Translated by Granma International •

  3. Follow up post #3 added on September 03, 2008 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    From granma international

    A single figure illustrates the magnitude of the problem. Hurricane Gustav damaged almost as many homes here as the 14 hurricanes that have hit this province in the last eight years in their totality.

    Housing, the greatest challengeOver that period, 102,000 homes in Pinar del Rio — 45% of all housing — were damaged to some extent.

    According to preliminary estimates, 90,000 were affected this time without counting the municipality of Bahía Honda, which was still cut off from communication on the evening of Monday, September 1.

    The worst devastation was in the eastern half of the province, with Los Palacios in the most critical situation. According to a report from the Municipal Defense Council, 10,000 of 13,000 homes were affected, and 6,000 collapsed completely.

    Neighboring municipalities were in a similar situation. San Cristóbal, for example, has reported 11,000 homes damaged so far.

    Teams of experts from the Ministry of Housing have been making a case-by-case assessment since Monday the 1st to get an accurate picture of the situation and what is needed for rebuilding.

    Construction materials continued to arrive as did specialized teams of workers from other provinces, mostly carpenters and roofers. 

    Authorities ordered immediate distribution of resources to the families affected. It was also decided to give as much priority possible to the least complicated cases to avoid lesser damage becoming larger as a result of delays.

    State facilities were also severely damaged.

    As of the evening of the 1st, no losses had been reported of computers, televisions, VCRs or other audiovisual equipment, confirming the effectiveness of preventive measures. However, 503 schools were damaged.

    “Mostly it was damage to walls and woodwork,” said Angel López, provincial education director. “We have appealed to our workers to begin putting the schools into shape and to aim to start classes on the 8th.”

    Obviously, however, it will not be possible for the school year — already delayed for one week — to begin on that date in some places. The Defense Council has instructed staff at each school to evaluate their situation.

    Given this complex situation, the Provincial Bureau of the Communist Party has called on the people of Pinar del Rio to take on the challenge of rebuilding their province with the same determination that has always characterized them, this time in face of a much greater phenomenon.

    Cuba consulting services

  4. Follow up post #4 added on September 05, 2008 by Lourdes

    What’s the big deal. Castro’s slaves are use to not having power, nor housing, nor food, nor alot of other things we take for granted.

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