Elio Delgado Legon
HAVANA TIMES – On Sunday January 27th, not too long after 8 PM, an EF-4 category tornado formed in the heart of a prefrontal trough, which caused great damage in four Havana municipalities, destroying everything in its wake. It’s hard to describe the effects of a natural phenomenon like this one, which is estimated to have the potential to cause more damage than a category 5 hurricane.
No matter how strong homes with cement roofs (that can withstand a hurricane), came crashing down, windows and doors were pulled loose from their frames, not a single raised water tank remained within the area where the tornado hit, a maternity hospital had to be evacuated and patients and new-borns were transferred to other medical facilities because damages caused were severe.
Soon after the tornado swept through these neighborhoods, the main government authorities in the capital and country, including president Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, went under the cloak of darkness and destruction, to have a look at the damaged caused and to reassure those affected, saying that everything that had been destroyed would be rebuilt and better than it was before.
Electricity and phone posts were completely wiped out in the area hit by the tornado, but solidarity between Cubans came immediately: brigades from both companies came from another four provinces to help repair everything as soon as they could. In the very same neighborhoods affected, residents took to the streets to collect rubble and fallen trees, with the collaboration of brigades of forest workers, members of the Ministry of Interior (Home Affairs) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces, as well as employees from other workplaces in the capital.
Just a week later, the electricity and phone systems are back up and running, which some neighbors thought would take at least a month when they saw the damage.
The partial or total collapse of homes and their reconstruction has been one of the issues that the government has given top priority, with an almost daily check-up at the Council of Ministers and visits to affected areas again to see how building projects are advancing and to continue to reassure those affected that their problems will be solved as soon as possible.
Nobody went to throw rolls of toilet paper at the affected, but they did go and reassure them that nobody would be left helpless. Building materials were immediately stocked in places near the affected areas, offices to process requests were opened to make solutions viable in every case. Those who aren’t able to afford them are being susbidized by the State and for labor; those who can afford them are being facilitated a low-interest loan from the bank and in any case, materials have a 50% discount.
During the days when there was no electricity, cooked food was served to every neighbor in those places affected and is still being offered to those who lost their homes.
A real constructive tornado has unfolded in the four municipalities hit by the destructive tornado and you can see walls of homes that were razed to the ground going up every day, which has put a smile of hope on people’s faces, having lost everything but also knowing that they will soon have their homes again.
Some evil-hearted people have written lies about how the response to these problems has been slow; however, the truth is that ever since the night of Sunday January 27th, the President and his ministers have been working hard to make sure everything is fixed as soon as possible and properly. President Diaz-Canel’s order has been that everything ends up better than it was, and he hasn’t stopped making personal visits to oversee the repairs being done in the wake of the tornado’s destruction.