x

Society

Cuba in the Dark after Hurricane Ian Knocks Out Power Grid

September 28, 2022

HAVANA — Cuba remained in the dark early Wednesday after Hurricane Ian knocked out its power grid and devastated some of the country’s most important tobacco farms when it hit the island’s western tip as a major storm.

Authorities were working overnight to gradually restore service to the country’s 11 million people, according to a statement from Cuba’s Electric Union. Power was initially knocked out to about 1 million people in Cuba’s western provinces, but later the entire grid collapsed.

Ian hit a Cuba that has been struggling with an economic crisis and has faced frequent power outages in recent months. It made landfall as a Category 3 storm on the island’s western end, devastating Pinar del Río province, where much of the tobacco used for Cuba’s iconic cigars is grown.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated and others fled the area ahead of the arrival of Ian, which caused flooding, damaged houses and toppled trees. Authorities were still assessing the damage, although no fatalities had been reported by Tuesday night.

Ian’s winds damaged one of Cuba’s most important tobacco farms in La Robaina.

“It was apocalyptic, a real disaster,” said Hirochi Robaina, owner of the farm that bears his name and that his grandfather made known internationally.

Robaina, also the owner of the Finca Robaina cigar producer, posted photos on social media of wood-and-thatch roofs smashed to the ground, greenhouses in rubble and wagons overturned.

State media said Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel visited the affected region.

“Being in the hurricane was terrible for me, but we are here alive,” said Pinar del Rio resident Yusimí Palacios, who asked authorities for a roof and a mattress.

Officials had set up 55 shelters and took steps to protect crops, especially tobacco.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Cuba suffered “significant wind and storm surge impacts” when the hurricane struck with top sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph).

Ian was expected to get even stronger over the warm Gulf of Mexico, reaching top winds of 130 mph (209 kph) approaching the southwestern coast of Florida, where 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate.

As the storm’s center moved into the Gulf, scenes of destruction emerged in Cuba. Authorities were still assessing the damage in its world-famous tobacco belt.

Local government station TelePinar reported heavy damage at the main hospital in Pinar del Rio city, tweeting photos of collapsed ceilings and downed trees. No deaths were reported.

Videos on social media showed downed power lines and cut off roads in the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Artemisa and Mayabeque. A hospital in Pinar del Río was damaged.

“The town is flooded,” said farmer Andy Muñoz, 37, who lives in Playa Cajío in Artemisa.

He said many people lost their belongings due to the storm surge.

“I spent the hurricane at home with my husband and the dog. The masonry and zinc roof of the house had just been installed. But the storm tore it down,” said Mercedes Valdés, who lives along the highway connecting Pinar del Río to San Juan y Martínez. “We couldn’t rescue our things … we just ran out.”

 

RELATED

President Joe Biden on Tuesday plans to visit the building site for a new computer chip plant in Arizona, using it as a chance to emphasize how his policies are fostering job growth in what could be a challenge to the incoming Republican House majority.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

FALMOUTH, MA – The police in Falmouth have identified the victim in an accident involving a car plunging into the ocean on February 20, NBC10 Boston reported.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Warnock or Walker? Georgia Runoff to Settle Last Senate Seat

ATLANTA — Georgia voters on Tuesday are set to decide the final Senate contest in the country, choosing between Democratic Sen.

LONDON - After Britain's former premier Boris Johnson said return of the stolen Parthenon Marbles to Greece was up to the British Museum, a new government said it's up to them and won't allow it.

ATHENS - State Minister Akis Skertsos addressing on Tuesday the Greek Economic Summit 2022 said that today is a very important day as it marks "the end of a painful course for the country, of the humiliating supervision from which we learned so much.

ISLAMABAD — Afghan girls will be allowed to take their high school graduation exams this week, an official and documents from the Taliban government indicated Tuesday — even though they have been banned from classrooms since the former insurgents took over the country last year.

NICOSIA - Upset by Greece conducting military drills on the islands near its coast, including Rhodes, Turkey fired back a response with an F-16 fighter jet over the occupied northern third of Cyprus that was seized in two unlawful 1974 invasions.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. abc@xyz.com

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.