Waiting for Tropical Storm Idalia

Un poco antes de que Idalia esta puesta por llegar a Pinar del Río

By Pedro Pablo Morejon

HAVANA TIMES – A tropical storm is approaching. According to the forecasts, it must transit through the Strait of Yucatan, very close to Cape San Antonio, the westernmost point of Cuba, in Pinar del Río. The area of cloudiness is so extensive that it covers the entire western part of the country, but the heaviest rainfall is expected in my province.

The neighborhood ration store is a sieve, the roof leaks everywhere and the sky shows when you look at it. That is why the “errands” for the month of September arrived early and they were selling them quickly to prevent them from being ruined by the water.

Errands, as the products of the meager rations are called that the all-powerful and totalitarian State claims to subsidize, although in recent times it cannot even cover half.

This time seven pounds of rice came, two of sugar and a half pound of peas, the latter unfit for human consumption due to the number of weevils that accompany it.

It is in the ration store that Nela, a neighbor, finds out about the storm. She doesn’t have internet or television or relatives abroad. Her home is still partially destroyed after Hurricane Ian hit nearly a year ago.

Half of the roof is poorly covered with some plastic that she got and the structure of the rest is so deteriorated by time and leaks, it could collapse with the intensity of the rains and that is why she is terrified. After a year, Nela, like so many affected whose number exceeds tens of thousands, has received nothing to recover from the damage.

All despite the vaunted phrase that “no one will be left destitute,” and the 42 million dollars of aid the government received to alleviate the disaster left by that cyclone.

It helps that no one knows where the money went or what the money was used for or for what purpose. Help like so many received without finally knowing their true destiny in a cursed land whose citizens live on crumbs and donations and where their rulers do not have to account to anyone for what they do or fail to do.

I am at home meditating on these things while I watch the drizzle begin to fall as a prelude to what is to come. It will be rainy days, a storm, as the elders say.

I am also thinking (and it is inevitable) of the half-destroyed buildings in Havana, where thousands of families live in difficult conditions, facing the risk of waking up in the afterlife after a possible collapse.

Then a knock on my door and it’s Nela looking for some kerosene to cook and telling me about her problems. Apparently she doesn’t have anything to cook with. Life can be very difficult for some and worse for others.

The rain is getting worse, I just found out that it is called Tropical Storm Idalia and it will soon become a hurricane. Thunderstorms, torrential rains, floods, and landslides are all we can expect in the coming days.

Read more from the diary of Pedro Pablo Morejón here.