By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, Nov. 9.- Hurricane Paloma is now history and the most affected areas of Central-Eastern Cuba are now in what Civil Defense authorities call the “recovery phase.” The rest of the country that was on alert has returned to “normality.”
Cuba withstood its third major hurricane in 70 days and once again the strategy to evacuate large numbers of the population prevented a loss of life, with no deaths yet reported.
The storm approached Cuba on Saturday as a Category 4 hurricane on the 1-5 Saffir Simpson scale with 145 MPH (230 KPH) winds. By the time it touched land near Santa Cruz del Sur, Camaguey it had weakened slightly to a Category 3 storm with 120 MPH winds.
The hardest hit populations were concentrated in the southeast of Camaguey province and the southwest of neighboring Las Tunas, which received the storm when it still packed dangerous hurricane force winds.
Initial reports on damage in Santa Cruz del Sur, Amancio, Colombia and Guaimaro are expected on the 6:00 pm. nationally televised Round Table program.
In Santa Cruz del Sur a 4-meter storm surge was reported and sea water penetrated over a mile inland, damaging homes and other infrastructure. A large number of fallen trees were visible in the area as well as downed electric and telephone lines.
Santa Cruz del Sur was also the scene of another hurricane exactly 76 years earlier when on Nov. 9, 1932 at least 3,000 died. Today, Cuba’s early warning and comprehensive evacuation systems prevented a repeat of such a disaster.
In Camaguey and Las Tunas numerous towns received between 8 and 12 inches of rainfall, reported the Cuban Meteorology Center on the 1:00 p.m. Sunday TV news.
As a result, several communities saw their crops under water as the floodgates at numerous reservoirs were opened to accommodate the runoff from swollen rivers. The farmers had made an extra effort to plant large quantities of short cycle crops to supply markets after Hurricane Ike stuck two months earlier.
The hurricane season official ends on November 30th and nobody in Cuba will be sad to say goodbye.