Note From Cuba:
Electricity went back on here in the Cuban capital at about
11:00 AM and so I hope to be able to fill up my computer's
battery again. Earlier I went out for a walk in the
neighborhood. Trucks were out cleaning up tree limbs which
had been torn off by the hurricane. This was nothing compared
to the reports from friends that water from the ocean, along
the Malecon which is on the north side of the island, flowed
up and over the stone barrier, knocking it out close to the
Deauville Hotel which is at the corner of Galeano and
Malecon. Water went up from the ocean as far as Linea, a main
thoroughfare to such an extent that there were boats on Linea
operated by the army who were removing guests to higher land
in other hotels. One friend who lives on Linea told me that
the water filled the garage under his house, which is on
surface street level. The sun is now shining. Many businesses
here are closed, but the government offices are open. Phone
services are fine and the operations offices of the phone
company are working, but the business offices are closed, so
you can't pay a bill or buy a phone card today. I'll be
sending less reports today and am plannning to go out again
later on today. Hope to report back to you later today.
Walter Lippmann, CubaNews
Cuba Rescues 250 Flood Victims From Wilma
Monday October 24, 2005 4:01 PM
By ANITA SNOW
Associated Press Writer
HAVANA (AP) - Rescuers in inflatable rafts and amphibious
vehicles pulled nearly 250 people from flooded homes Monday
after huge waves churned by Hurricane Wilma flooded the
capital's coastal highway and adjacent neighborhoods of old,
The ocean spread up to four blocks inland, inundating streets
and buildings with water up to three feet deep.
``We're amazed,'' resident Laura Gonzalez-Cueto said as she
watched scuba divers carry small groups of people in black
inflatable rafts with outboard motors.
Although the Malecon coastal highway and adjacent
neighborhoods often flood during storms, the extent of
Monday's inundation was highly unusual.
As of midmorning, 244 people, including some children, had
been rescued, municipal official Mayra Lassale said. Mayor
Juan Contino was with rescue workers in an inflatable raft at
the scene of some of the worst flooding.
The outer bands of Wilma also flooded evacuated communities
along the island's southern coast over the weekend after the
hurricane clobbered Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
Flooding and high winds caused heavy damage to homes in the
northern coastal community of Baracoa, just east of Havana.
In the Port of Mariel east of Havana, people gathered outside
homes to watch in awe as waves several yards high rolled in
one after another. Part of a concrete seawall crumbled, but
otherwise no major damage was evident.
``Last night was really tense, just waiting for what might
happen,'' said Joelsis Calderin, 30. ``I've never seen waves
like this. You have to respect the sea.''
``Come on over,'' another Mariel resident, Sussel Acosta,
joked to her neighbors. ``Everyone's catching fish at my
The government shut off electricity throughout the capital
and across the island's west - a standard safety precaution -
as high winds howled across the island.
Late Sunday, President Fidel Castro appeared on television to
calm Cubans anticipating increased winds and flooding as
Wilma passed by en route to Florida.
Castro praised the island's efficiency in hurricane
preparation, saying that despite scarce resources, Cuba has
become internationally recognized as ``a model country that
protects the lives of its citizens.''
Cuba prides itself on saving lives during hurricanes, and its
civil defense plans have been held up by the United Nations
as a model. Mandatory, widespread evacuations are common and
face little resistance.
The government in recent days evacuated nearly 700,000 people,
particularly in the island's west, the official National
InformationAgency said Monday. Some people were ordered by
civil defense officials to leave their homes as early as
Associated Press writers Vanessa Arrington in Mariel, Cuba,
and Andrea Rodriguez in Havana also contributed to this
Cuba gets no respite from two storm systems, three days of
By Ruth Morris
October 24, 2005
RECOMPENSA, Cuba -- Powerful gusts peeled the roofs off
rustic homes, whipped through sugar cane fields and screamed
through city streets in western Cuba on Sunday as Hurricane
Wilma crept toward South Florida.
Cuba found itself pinched between two raging weather systems
over the weekend, with Wilma barreling along the northwest
coast and Tropical Depression Alpha skidding past already
drenched provinces to the east.
The island recorded its wettest October in 41 years, state-run
newscasts reported, as Wilma's outer bands continued to dump
torrents of rain and push waves over retaining walls along
the southern coast.
Authorities reported winds of 55 mph in the western tobacco
region of Pinar del Rio, where several small tornados spun
through the area during the weekend, carrying away shingles
and fiberglass roofing. Six people were reported to have
minor injuries from the twisters. Three consecutive days of
sporadic downpours swamped fishing villages along Cuba's
southern coast and filled reservoirs to the spilling point.
"We have no electricity. There is no news here," said Amelia
Cabezas, a housewife, on a coastal road near Recompensa, in
northern Pinar del Rio province. "It's an old house," she
said of her rough-plank home. "I don't know what will happen
to my roof. ... My nerves are bad."
Speaking from behind a crooked iron gate, a pile of plantains
on a well-worn wooden chair beside her, Cabezas was one of a
few stragglers who waited until the last minute to move to
sturdier structures. Civil Defense troops have evacuated
637,000 residents ahead of the storm, mostly to neighbors'
Elsewhere, houses stood empty and shuttered. Horse buggies
were tipped upward and stacked under awnings.
"We're watching weather forecasts all the time," said Felix
Vea, an agricultural technician, walking his bicycle nearby.
Tired of waiting for Wilma to pass, he said he had stocked up
on rice, meat and coal long ago.
"But for now we don't think we have a problem," he said. "Now
it's going to Florida."
In Havana, traffic lights were out along the historic
Malecon, the seawall. Winds howled through the historic
district's narrow streets, and laundry lines flapped madly.
Wilma's violent winds and downpours were expected to continue
through the night, but even as the storm passed authorities
ordered new evacuations in anticipation of Alpha's passage to
Copyright C 2005, South Florida Sun-Sentinel