Nothing Human Is Alien to Us – After the Havana Tornado

By Madelin Hernandez Casanova*

Damage in Regla, Havana from the Tornado of January 27, 2019. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES – It just took a few moments on the night of Sunday January 27th. There aren’t any words to describe what the victims of that unexpected tornado felt, thousands of Cubans seeing their entire lives do a 180 in just 16 minutes.

The deafening noise, the relentless wind and panic overwhelmed us, stunned by such destructive force, stuck in an inexplicable chaos complete with destruction, blood and terrifying screams. However, I don’t intend to relive that nightmare with this article (which I still haven’t woken up from I think), but to share experiences about what has happened afterwards.

Displaying the teachings of the greatest Cubans in history, a fountain of solidarity came streaming in to provide relief to both physical bodily wounds and those of the heart. What happened suddenly is once again indescribable.

As someone who was directly affected, I don’t have the words or time in my life to thank others for so much support. I’m not only speaking for myself, but on the behalf of everyone affected. I’m sure that we can all agree that we didn’t go without some words of encouragement, a comforting hug, the solidarity of neighbors, friends, relatives, friends of friends, work colleagues and even strangers.

A thousand times THANK YOU:

– to the Police squad car that came to our aid after a daring SOS call from my former son-in-law (who I now consider my son, because of his attitude).

Many homes were totally or partially destroyed in Regla. Photo:

– to all the medical staff who saw and treated my mother and everyone else who sustained injuries on January 27th; to those who have made a great effort so we can overcome this trauma and feel protected, to those who have taken the time to call, send a message.

– to those who have offered a hand, shoulder, resources, a roof where we can take shelter, giving all they can and more.

– to the firefighters who saved so many human lives, some of which are only just beginning.

– to the brigades who are working night and day to reestablish essential services.

– to the artists, athletes, celebrities in general and ordinary people; to the young people who have taken to the street to help those affected with their encouragement, work, resources… who ever said that they were lost?

– to the authorities who did and are doing a good job.

– to everyone who has come to our homes, with water and food, to those who have prayed with us even when they don’t know if we share the same beliefs or religion; in that moment, we felt like “brothers and sisters”.

– to the self-employed who have made selfless contributions with food, especially the man who handed out his ice-cream to children in the neighborhood just to see them smile.

– to every Cuban both on and off the island (and some foreigners) who have made our pain their own.

This wave of human solidarity is really touching. I am proud of my friends, family and my fellow Cubans. Knowing that unity isn’t an abstract, hollow concept, but the complete opposite, fills me with hope. I am proud to be from Regla, Havana, Cuba.

*Resident from the Modelo Neighborhood, Regla.

2 thoughts on “Nothing Human Is Alien to Us – After the Havana Tornado

  • En Florida, después del ciclón Irma, fueron descubiertos 12 muertos, viejos, abandonados en su asilo, abandonados por sus cuidadores y, en un sentido, por su gobierno y su ‘comunidad’. Esa tragedia y crimen no puede pasar en Cuba, no se puede pasar. En Cuba, a pesar de la escasez de tantos recursos, hay una abundancia del recurso mas importante que nada: comunidad. Me siento orgulloso, y sé que tengo mucha suerte, de ser incluido en esa. Como se dice en los EEUU cuando se vea ese valor en accion: Cuba Strong!

  • I live in Miami, I was born and raised in Regla and my parents lay to rest in the Regla Cemetery, from the distance we have suffered your pain and small contributions had been sent to relatives to help ease their pain and cover some needs. God help our people, 38 years away doesn’t make us less Cuban, we love you brothers and sisters. We wish you a speedy recovery, God bless you all !!!

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