Cuba Survives Ivan with No Human Lives Lost
By Maria Julia Mayoral
The two hurricanes—Charley and the powerful Ivan, which hit Cuba in the space of just one month were a good training exercise for the people and the political state and governmental authorities, not just in terms of confronting the ravages of nature but also how to successfully survive any disaster.
At the close of this edition, the sum of material damages has yet to be determined; but no human lives were lost when the hurricane hit, as reported on a Roundtable discussion program that also outlined the strategies undertaken and provided information on recovery work.
The figures presented by Lieutenant Colonel Luis Angel Macareño Véliz are proof of the country’s organization and ability. The National Civil Defense specialist stated that 1,898,396 inhabitants were evacuated, 78 percent of them in the homes of friends and relatives. As well as this, 1,725 temporary kitchens and 2,492 emergency shelters were established. More than 8,000 tourists were moved to safe locations and, with plenty of notice, 359,644 boarding school students returned to their homes. In total, more than two million people were protected, without a single accident during their transportation.
He highlighted the responsibility with which the general staff and units of the FAR (Revolutionary Armed Forces) had been mobilized to offer help to those areas in need, and particularly emphasized the attention offered by Army General Raúl Castro in directing these operations through every stage.
Pinar Del Río suffered worst damage
Whilst the rest of the western region progressively returns to normality, the province of Pinar del Río continued to be on cyclonic alarm alert; the majority of villages are in darkness, flooding in the most westerly region is notable, numerous homes have lost their roofs, several areas are without telephone communication, electrical cables litter the ground and more than 240,000 inhabitants are still evacuated from the area.
There was also significant damage to citrus fruit and banana plantations, the fauna and flora in the Guanahacabibes National Park and villages such as Boca de Galafre, although the houses built after Hurricanes Lili and Isidore in that area remain standing.
Although the frontal section of Hurricane Ivan barely touched the point of the Guanahacabibes peninsula, the phenomenon caused significant damage in the western region of Pinar del Río, due to raging winds of 200 kilometers per hour, and gusts of up to 260 km/ph, according to meteorological experts.
Dr. José Rubiera, director of the National Forecasts Center at the Meteorological Institute, explained that this climactic phenomenon is the fifth most intense to hit the Caribbean.
The Isle of Youth is displaying a less dramatic panorama on this occasion. The spirit of solidarity, discipline and the confidence of the people in the recuperation work are prevailing in that region.
With respect to drinking water supplies, it was reiterated that diesel motors and generators had been installed to maintain energy supplies to water stations. Aimée Aguirre from the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources explained that Pinar del Río has more than 130 water trucks and stored water in a tank in the capital of the province.
The official explained that Ivan had actually helped in relation to supplies of stored water. The rains allowed them to collect approximately 300 cubic meters of water.
The hurricane also affected the energy networks. Technician Juan Antonio Pruna, general director of the Electricity Union, reported on what had occurred in Pinar del Río and the Isle of Youth. In this western province, there are now more than 500 workers from other provinces and it is expected that the 33,000-volt lines will be re-established in the next 72 hours, allowing them to progressively resume services to the population.
—Granma International, (Cuba), September 15, 2004