By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, Nov. 9.- Hurricanes are pretty frightening during the daytime, but are considerably more so at night. It was dark when Hurricane Paloma struck Cuban soil at 7:27 p.m. on Saturday and the damage being caused by its winds and rain continues on into the wee hours.
The latest of three major hurricanes hitting Cuba this season was dubbed Paloma (the dove) but entered the island like a fierce hawk on the south coast of Camaguey province near the town of Santa Cruz del Sur.
Downgraded slightly before touching land from a Category 4 to a Category 3 storm on the Saffir-Simpson Scale, Paloma was expected to bring 4-5 meter waves and a sea surge that would flood well inland from Santa Cruz del Sur and other low-lying points along the southern coast. Rains could be over 8 inches in some places on the storm’s path.
According to the Cuban Meteorology Center the storm remains on a northeasterly course and may leave the island near the city of Nuevitas, Camaguey sometime Sunday.
The National Hurricane Center in Florida reported at 10:00 p.m. (EST) that Paloma was still a highly dangerous Category 3 hurricane, packing winds of 115 MPH. Now over land, the storm has slowed its speed and is moving at 7 MPH.
Events in Santa Cruz del Sur are reminiscent of November 9, 1932 when some three thousand people died in another major hurricane. At that time, Cuba did not have efficient early warning and evacuation systems as it does today.
Hundreds of thousands of people were reportedly evacuated ahead of Hurricane Paloma. The vast majority going to relatives or friends with less risky homes, while the rest went to government shelters usually established in schools and other public buildings.