Since the devastating hurricane Ian hit Pinar del Río, the westernmost province of Cuba, the lives of the people of the small rural communities in this region of the island have changed. Since then, efforts to restore normality have not ceased.
With an effort that few can imagine, little by little, day after day, they are repairing their homes. They are doing it with materials that are still usable from the damage caused by the powerful cyclone that hit them on 27 September.
They are doing everything possible to make them habitable again and are awaiting government funding to complete their restoration.
So says Roilan Colombé, a resident of La Verbena, a small agricultural settlement in the municipality of San Juan y Martínez that suffered extensive damage to homes, tobacco infrastructure, electricity and telephone networks as a result of the fury of Ian’s winds.
A representative of the Palco Business Group and the Prensa Latina news agency arrived there – with the guidance of young people from the local Faro solidarity and humanitarian aid project – to distribute donations among the inhabitants of various communities in this western territory.
In San Juan y Martínez, the winds knocked down almost 1,500 power poles, and tens of thousands of metres of cable, and put 243 power substations out of action says Geider Mompie, director of Unión Eléctrica in the eastern province of Granma, who brought all his workers to help with the recovery in this territory.
In the town of La Ceniza, local man Carlos Gómez, who works for the municipal government, says that in the Punta Cartas Popular Council, some 250 tobacco houses were destroyed. “Not a single one was left standing,” he said, adding that thousands of homes in the area suffered damage ranging from severe to partial and minor. “I’ve lived here for 61 years, and I’ve never experienced a cyclone of this magnitude. Not even Lily and Isidore,” he adds. Those hurricanes hit Pinar del Río in September and October 2002.
Along the road linking the main road from San Juan and Martinez to the small fishing port of Punta Cartas, passing through La Ceniza and Campo Alegre, there is visible evidence of destroyed meadows, and poles and transformers with cable bundles littering the ground.
A team of electricians from Granma is about to launch an offensive to repair the damage, Mompié said. “It has been an arduous and challenging task to get this far,” the engineer said.
In the centre of San Juan y Martínez is the hamlet of Manaca, another of the municipalities visited by representatives of Palco and Prensa Latina to deliver donations, where the dwellings are more scattered and far from each other. The Capote’s live there, with two disabled children and among the most vulnerable due to the damage suffered.
In addition to toys, sweets, other foodstuffs, toiletries, clothes and footwear, the donations included mattresses and televisions for the families in the most critical situation.
(Translated by Rene Phelvin – Email: renephelvin@gmailcom) – Photos: Pixabay