Cuba Hurricane Recovery Update

Holguin was hit hard by Hurricane Ike last September.
Holguin was hit hard by Hurricane Ike last September.

HAVANA TIMES, July 22 (IPS) – Holguin and Las Tunas, two of the Cuban eastern provinces whose residential infrastructure was seriously damaged by hurricanes in 2008, continue their gradual recovery.

In Holguín, 10 months after the havoc, rehabilitation and rebuilding has already been completed on more than 66,000 housing units that were totally or partially damaged by Hurricane Ike in September 2008, notes Jorge Cuevas Ramos, the first secretary of the Communist Party in that eastern province.

The total number of houses in Holguin rehabilitated or reconstructed in the wake of the tropical cyclone represents 53 percent of the more than 124,000 affected.  These homes are located principally in the municipalities of Banes, Gibara, Rafael Freyre, Antilla, Moa and Mayarí, where most of the impact of the devastating hurricane was felt in the region, said Cuevas Ramos last week.

Rebuilding from Ike will take years. Photo Caridad
Rebuilding from Ike will take years. Photo Caridad

In the case of Las Tunas, another eastern province, hurricanes Ike and Paloma damaged more than 80,000 homes, of which 32,000 have been totally restored, reported the top Party official in the province Teresa Amarelle.

Another 15,000 families have received construction materials, much of which is being produced in that same province, she noted.

Official figures indicate that hurricanes Gustav, Ike and Paloma – all of which throttled Cuba in 2008 – did about $10 billion (USD) in damage to the island.

According to that data, more than a half million homes suffered damage, which worsened the already critical housing problem that had persisted from previous hurricane damage and a lack of investment during the last two decades.

A report to the Cuban parliament last December indicated that more than 500,000 housing units in 35 municipalities were damaged by hurricanes in 2008, while in 12 other provinces more than 70,000 homes remained in disrepair due to prior-year storms.

A Havana Times translation of excerpts from a report published in Spanish by IPS.