Cuba’s state power company restored electricity to some consumers in the different provinces, it said on Wednesday.
HAVANA TIMES – At least five buildings have completely collapsed in Havana, according to official preliminary reports, and 68 have been partially destroyed as a result of Hurricane Ian. More than 16,000 people were relocated to shelters, while officials did not give an estimate when power would be fully restored.
The state electric company said on Wednesday that it had restored power to some consumers in most provinces, after Hurricane Ian and a severe generating failure caused the total collapse of the country’s grid, leaving more than 11 million people in the dark.
Cubans have been living under Cuba’s inefficient power grid for decades, which relies heavily on antiquated systems and oil-fired generation plants. Long blackouts were already occurring before the storm.
Officials said Ian had knocked out the power network even in far eastern Cuba, which was largely unaffected by the storm.
“The repair work (…) has allowed the recovery of 224 megawatts, serving a part of the consumers in 12 provinces of the country,” said the Cuban Electric Company, the state supplier.
The 224 megawatts represent about 7% of a daily peak load of 3,259 megawatts just before the hurricane hit, according to official figures. [In Alamar, Havana, a source said she had power for 15 minutes on Wednesday night and that it was on and off in her zone on Thursday morning.]
The grid operator said it was still working to recover power lines in several provinces, which had been downed by Ian.
“This widespread blackout is the last thing that could happen in the country,” said Ramiro Perez, a 72-year-old retired teacher with diabetes who had ventured out of his home in Havana to look for food and medicine. Our country is finally hitting rock bottom,” he added.
Havana received the winds and rainfall from Ian’s tail as it left the island and entered the Gulf of Mexico, leaving numerous damage to already debilitated buildings, felled a large number of trees, and downed electrical and telephone cables in the city of two million inhabitants.
The hurricane disaster finds Cuba already in an economic crisis, in addition to the prospect of long blackouts on the island, where mosquitoes abound and temperatures are high at night, a major concern for residents.
“We always run the risk that our food will spoil,” said Freddy Aguilera, owner of a small private café in Havana. “We don’t have a generator, there’s no way to preserve our products,” he said.
The provinces of Pinar del Río and Artemisa, west of Havana, which received a direct hit from Ian, were still completely without power or communications.
Meanwhile, the Government has not yet published official estimates of damage to crops, tobacco or homes in these two provinces. Such figures will be forthcoming.