By Guillermo Nova
HAVANA TIMES – Mike Theiss is a photographer who specializes in portraying moments of extreme nature. His camera has immortalized erupting volcanoes, lightning and tornadoes, but especially the destructive force of hurricanes, because Mike Theiss is a storm chaser, reported dpa news.
His photographs, where the protagonist is the fury of nature, have appeared published in magazines like National Geographic. This time, Mike Theiss was in Baracoa, in the far eastern Cuban province of Guantanamo for the passage yesterday of the powerful hurricane “Matthew”.
“Awesome! We’re still in the eye of #HurricaneMatthew in Baracoa, Cuba! The lowest pressure recorded 962mb”, wrote Theiss in his Twitter account.
The photographer was with a group of tourists in a hotel in the town of Baracoa, the first village founded by Spanish conquistadors in 1511 and the hardest hit by the fury of category four “Matthew”.
Even before the hurricane arrived to Cuba, Theiss was narrating how people shored up doors and windows to protect themselves from the powerful storm.
“The authorities in Cuba doing a great job keeping everyone informed! Some of the best preparations I have seen in any country,” Theiss wrote on #HurricaneMatthew”.
For days, the Cuban Civil Defense had organized plans to mitigate the potential harms of “Matthew”, which forced the evacuation of about 1.3 million people nationwide.
“Part of the roof falling. Nothing important, it’s the overhang of the roof, but scary! #HurricaneMatthew”, he wrote in one of the messages, which showed a video with the first damage caused by the hurricane.
The 36-year-old National Geographic photographer was born in the Florida Keys and was always interested in atmospheric phenomena.
“He would sit with his father on the porch of the house during a typical summer thunderstorm to watch the lightning and hear the thunder for hours,” he says on his website.
Hurricane “Floyd,” which in 1987 made landfall in the Florida Keys and in 1992 the passing of “Andrew” he confirmed his vocation to live on the front line of extreme weather events.
His debut as a hurricane photographer was with “Georges”, which in 1998 went through Florida. Including “Matthew” he has already lived through 39 tropical storms and hurricanes.
“Complete destruction in Baracoa, Cuba from a combination of extreme wind and storm surge. Sad situation here, #HurricaneMatthew” was one of his first messages to go out to walking the streets after the hurricane.
Hurricane “Matthew” Category 4 on the Saffir Simpson scale, touched Cuban soil on Tuesday at six p.m. local time, in the vicinity of Punta Caleta, on the south coast of Guantanamo. It left the island in the early morning on Wednesday.
With 220 kilometer per hour winds it caused severe damage in the municipalities of Maisi, Imías, San Antonio del Sur and Baracoa in the eastern province of Guantanamo, before going back to sea towards Bahamas.
In the area its passage “Matthew” destroyed houses, blocking roads caused flooding, power outages and telephone communications were down, but so far no human victims have been reported, according to state television.
Prior to its arrival in Cuba, “Matthew” butted the southwestern tip of Haiti with winds recorded at 233 kilometers per hour and heavy rain. At least five persons died as a result.
In the neighboring Dominican Republic, four people died from “Matthew”, while rescue teams had evacuated over 21,000 people from areas considered high risk.