Cholera in Cuba
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Hurricane Sandy’s impact has yet to fade in Santiago de Cuba

Hurricane Sandy’s impact has yet to fade in Santiago de Cuba
Santiago de Cuba is still recovering from Oct. 25, 2012 storm
Author: Hatzel Vela, Reporter, hvela@Local10.com
Andrea Torres, Local10.com Reporter, atorres@local10.com
Published On: Nov 02 2015 09:07:53 PM EST Updated On: Nov 19 2015
12:10:00 AM EST

SANTIAGO DE CUBA, Cuba –
Three years ago, Hurricane Sandy barreled through the southeastern tip
of the island and left death and destruction in its wake. It ripped down
tree branches. There were toppled light posts.

In its sweep, it isolated communities and wreaked havoc. And while it
grew into a Category 2 storm, it killed 11 people in the provinces of
Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo. It was the deadliest storm since
Hurricane Dennis in 2005, Cuban authorities said.

The storm damaged sugar, banana and coffee crops and about 200,000
structures. It also flooded wells, which later lead to a dengue and
cholera outbreaks in one of the most densely populated areas of the
country. Imarys Rosales remembers there were downed power lines on the
dangerous hilly roads of the 500-year-old city of Santiago de Cuba.

“It was a disastrous thing. Santiago was completely devastated,” Rosales
said in Spanish. “Every block was full of debris. We suffered 18 days
without electricity.”

It took at least a month for the government’s Empresa Electrica to
restore the electrical grid. Although the Cuban Red Cross had support
from the German, Norwegian and Spanish societies, in 2013 there were
many “in desperate need of assistance” and some some 160,000 households
in Santiago and Holguin “without a proper roof,” according to the Red Cross.

Although there were homes that haven’t seen fresh paint in decades, the
roofs that Sandy blew away were back in place.

There was plenty of structural damage left behind. The storm packed an
economic punch on the already financially strapped Santiagueros, as the
natives of Santiago de Cuba are known, share homes that are sometimes in
shambles.

Rebuilding efforts were more feasible for those who have the support of
U.S. and European remittances. But there are few, since the more
affluent have reportedly been moving to western provinces without
notifying authorities.

Government aid included selling victims tools and construction materials
on loan and at reduced prices.

A drought is hurting the agricultural sector, which used to have the
highest coffee production in the country. The coffee production this
year will meet government’s expectations with some 307,000 cans,
according to Cuban media, a Communist government stalwart.

Local media also regularly covers stories of the island’s accomplishment
of long life expectancy. By 2030 they expect one million will be over
75. But retirees have to scrape by on $12 a month, which many say is not
enough to eat. Most recently the government reported there is an ongoing
project to build 10 new homes for the elderly.

Many view this and other forms of government investment as signs of
recovery. Rosales remains positive. Although the city struggles with
attracting foreigners — since most prefer Havana and Varadero —
tourists, she said, “are surprised when they see how Santiago has
recovered fast.”

Source: Hurricane Sandy’s impact has yet to fade in Santiago de Cuba |
Cuba Coast to Coast – Home –
www.local10.com/news/cuba-coast-to-coast/hurricane-sandy-destruction-lingers-in-lives-of-cubans/35971618

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