News and Facts about Cuba

Tropical storm Andrea’s rains pummeled western Cuba

Posted on Wednesday, 06.05.13

Tropical storm Andrea’s rains pummeled western Cuba
By Juan O. Tamayo

Tropical Storm Andrea’s heavy rains pounded western Cuba on Wednesday,
at the start of a hurricane season expected to be particularly active
and only seven months after Hurricane Sandy devastated the eastern end
of the island.

Civil Defense officials declared a weather alarm in Pinar Del Rio
province through Thursday as a low-pressure system approaching from
Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula dumped nearly 12 inches of rain in some spots
over the previous 24 hours.

Andrea, the first named storm of the hurricane season also triggered a
lower-level “alert” for Havana and the adjoining provinces of Artemisa
and Mayabeque. Heavy weather also was expected to hit the Isle of Youth
off Cuba’s southwestern coast.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center upgraded Andrea to a tropical storm
Wednesday afternoon, and the National Weather Service issued a flood
warning for parts of western Florida through Thursday evening.

Cuban news media reported some flooding and more than 1,000 people
evacuated already Wednesday, mostly along the Cuyaguateje River in Pinar
del Rio. Six of the province’s 24 dams are already full, and they stand
at an average of 59 percent full.

The provincial town of Las Martinas reported more than 10 inches of rain
over 24 hours. The town of Isabel Rubio reported 7.6 inches and rain
gauges in Acueducto Sandino, the Cuyaguateje dam and Laguna Grande all
reported more than eight inches.

Tobacco leaves stored in the province, Cuba’s top cigar-producing area
with 44,500 acres planted, are well protected from the humidity and
officials will try to speed up the harvesting of other products, a Pinar
del Rio Ministry official reported.

Gladys Martínez Verdecia, head of Civil Defense for the province, said
one tornado was reported but it only damaged three homes.

The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has forecast
that the hurricane season that began Saturday will be more active than
usual, with 13 to 20 named storms and three to six of them major
hurricanes. Last year saw 19 named storms but only two major hurricanes.

Hurricane Sandy killed 11 people, damaged the homes of more than 75,000
and caused a reported $2 billion in damages when it swept across eastern
Cuba, especially the province and city of Santiago de Cuba on Oct. 25.

Thousands of Santiago residents are still living in shelters or with
relatives or friends, sometimes jammed two and three families into a
couple of rooms.

Most damaged roofs have been covered with a type of thick paper
distributed by the government or tarps donated by , residents
say, but the Havana government has delivered few of the supplies needed
for permanent repairs.

Some families received just 30 roof tiles, one small bag of nails, one
sack of cement and some soft lumber likely to rot quickly in Cuba’s
humid climate, according to reports from the Cuban Patriotic
Union.

Santiago dissident Pedro Montané told El Nuevo Herald that the
government appears to be helping those people who suffered only partial
damages more than those like himself, who lost his entire roof to Sandy.

“They have given me nothing, nothing,” he said by phone from Santiago.
With donations from friends, neighbors and relatives, Montané added, he
replaced part of his roof with corrugated zinc sheets but expects many
leaks in the next storm.

“There’s no cement, no lumber,” he added, “and the nice red zinc sheets
donated by Venezuela can only be seen in the government stores.”

http://www.miamiherald.com/2013/06/05/3435605/tropical-storm-andreas-rains.html

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