HAVANA TIMES — No one in Guantánamo slept a wink last night and I imagine it was the same story in Santiago and Holguin. These are the three easternmost provinces in Cuba, the ones that faced the greatest menace from the powerful Hurricane Matthew. Though residents here have had little experience with phenomena of this great a magnitude, they do know well what it is to witness roofs flying, ocean waves surging several meters high, and rivers carrying everything off.
Each one of these territories have suffered at some moment from hurricanes that were less intense but equally destructive of the works of humans. Those from Holguin still remember Hurricane Ike’s passing in 2008, the Santiago residents talk about the 2012 storm Sandy, and now we in Guantánamo can speak of the ferocious Matthew.
This time, the storm moved a little to the east before making landfall in Cuba, battering forcefully the eastern part of Guantánamo province. It devastated Baracoa, Maisi and other areas, but in the western part of the province we only experienced some winds and a little rain. Here, everything has returned to normal, but people are feeling very sad about the disaster in Baracoa.
Hundreds of people form Baracoa, Maisí and other territories to the east of Guantánamo have had their houses partially or completely destroyed. Buildings considered strong have collapsed; the structures in front of the seawall in Baracoa lost their doors and windows. State entities in Baracoa such as the La Rusa hotel, several schools, and the Primada Visión telephone center lost their roof covering.
Many other things in these zones have been affected, but the damages are still being assessed. All communication has been lost in Maisí and I don’t know what the Cuban Air Force is waiting for in order to send a helicopter with a reporting team to get the news from this easternmost town in the country.
How long will take each one of those affected to recover their lost home, or replace the destroyed roof? There are still a number of Santiago residents affected by Sandy four years previously who are still in temporary shelters.
It’s no secret to many how we live on the Island. Even though the people are aware that the most sacred thing we have is our lives and we should be grateful to be safe, we also know that after the storm comes the calm. This calm will be difficult to achieve for the families who lost everything, despite help from the State that will arrive despite the difficulties.
Given the situation, I would ask “Havana Times” readers to abstain from the usual talk: “If the Castro dictators, such and such;” “If the Cuban regime, so on and so forth;” or “If the destroyed homes were in bad shape it was because of the system.” Ladies and gentlemen, it’s not the moment for that.
Those who were left without homes or without resources don’t need that now, but rather ideas ideas that could help them to move forward.
But more than economic aid, the inhabitants of Baracoa, Maisí and other affected areas need support, be it through the internet or over a telephone line, and that’s something we all can offer.