By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES – Some fill water tanks, others prepare kerosene burners in case there is a power cut; some prune trees that pose a danger to roofs in case of strong winds. Meanwhile, others collect avocados, currently in season, so that they are not damaged in a precipitous fall.
The truth is that everyone is preparing for the passage of Laura, the Tropical Storm that threatens to affect all of Cuba, from the tip of Maisi in Guantanamo to the Cape of San Antonio in Pinar del Rio.
Alexander, a neighbor, has his house with a tin roof, as well as his garage where he parks his 1950s car. After the experience with Hurricane Sandy in 2012, he does not want to take risks, and took the car to a secure garage with a concrete roof. “I will also spend the night with my wife and young daughters at my mother-in-law’s house, which is safer,” he explained.
Ivon for his part, with an even weaker house, has moved all his assets using a tractor, to a neighbor’s house. “I can’t afford to lose anything. If the wind is too strong, I could lose everything and there are too many years of sacrifice to take risks. I will spend the night with my daughter in a house with reinforced concrete roof very resistant to hurricanes,” he told Havana Times.
At this time of the year most of the agricultural lands here are being cleared for the September planting which begins with corn and some types of beans. There won’t be as much to lose in the event of flooding, as there is when a hurricane strikes in October. But with the current situation the country any crop loss would be hard felt by the population. Perennial or long-cycle crops such as bananas or cassava could be affected.
I myself have areas of different kinds of plantains and bananas, in our yard and a small plot near the house. Losing them to the wind would be very unfortunate, because always after a hurricane or tropical storm there is a tremendous shortage of food for several months.
And shortages are something that already exist, especially the lack of rice in the markets, and things could get much worse.
The most unfortunate thing would be to lose the avocados. And picking them early would be similar. They could last on the trees for up to a month or more, but with the wind we would be forced to consume or sell them in less than a week.
Let me add that Cuba is not a country with a normal market, fruits and vegetables are only harvested seasonally. Outside of its natural time there simply isn’t. This time I decided to take the risk to see if some of them resist the wind and make it as light as possible.
Although Laura is not one of the strongest storms, no one wants to underestimate the forces of nature this time, like the surprise that Sandy gave us in 2012. That hurricane seemed a small thing and we thought it would weaken even more in the Sierra Maestra mountains. However, just the opposite occurred, as it swept everything with most people overconfident at home.
So you have to be careful.
Mayari, like all of eastern Cuba, is on tropical storm alarm since Sunday morning. The authorities have reported on the municipal radio some general evacuation actions, such as “the return to their homes of just over 200 children, enjoying their holiday period in Cayo Saetía.”
It has also been reported that “62 campers who were staying at the base of the Cabonico River and 44 national tourists who were enjoying themselves in the Villa Pinares de Mayarí would be returning to their homes. For the coming hours we will be quiet in the safest place within our reach, hoping that the onslaught doesn’t leave us more misery and calamities than we already have.