Floods, Landslides and Thousands Sheltered from the Rains in Western Cuba

Floods have left some communities incommunicado. (Cortesía)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 4 June 2022 — Havana reports the greatest damage due to the heavy rains associated with the large area of low pressure in the southeast of the Gulf of Mexico that affects western and central Cuba. The authorities of the capital describe the conditions in the city as becoming “complex” and report two deaths, 111 building collapses, of which two are total, more than 4,500 evacuees and 23 flooded areas.

In addition to “the heavy rains, the floods,” they said the damage was due to “the age of the city,” according to the Cuban Presidency’s Twitter account with a source at a meeting of the National Civil Defense General Staff.

The rise of the Almendares River, the main one in Havana, has forced the evacuation of almost 50 people in the communities of El Fanguito and La Polar, neighborhoods where most of the houses are made of wood and other light materials. The waters rose quickly, and when they withdrew they left a thick layer of mud and garbage, according to Tribuna de La Habana.

The president of the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power of Plaza de la Revolución, Osmani Arcia Peñate, reported that 48 people were evacuated from El Fanguito this Friday to the nearby Pioneer Palace, including six minors and two infants. Vicente Ponce Carrasco Elementary School was was also able to accommodate another 300.

In Pinar del Río, where the rains have caused flooding in several locations, the disappearance of citizen Yusiniel Cabeza La Rosa was reported yesterday afternoon. According to the state radio station Radio Guamá, the 21-year-old, resident of the Ojo de Agua farm belonging to the Santa Lucía popular council north of the municipality of Minas de Matahambre, was swept away by the strong currents of a river that he tried to swim across.

“Since then, combined forces of the Ministry of the Interior together with inhabitants of the surrounding communities are carrying out search work,” reported the Municipal Civil Defense, which added that “the spillage from the Nombre Dios dam makes it difficult to search.”

Provincial authorities also say that 11 communities continue to be incommunicado, and they ask the population to “maintain discipline” and not cross rising rivers to “avoid the loss of human life.” On Friday afternoon, the body of Yosvel Cabrera Álvarez, 44, who fell into a swollen creek hours earlier, was found.

In Pinar del Río, 4,480 people continue being evacuated, and there have been 302 reports of damage to the electricity service.

“In the provinces of Cienfuegos, Villa Clara and Sancti Spíritus, the rains have been beneficial and so far no major damage has been reported,” reported Presidencia Cuba, while noting that in Mayabeque 17 homes were damaged and the cucumber, melon and corn crops were affected.

On the Isle of Youth, four families were helped, and the biggest problem “is the leaks in buildings,” while in Matanzas the return to their homes of about 250 people who were evacuated began and, in addition, there are 14 homes damaged. In Artemisa, “a severe local storm occurred in the municipality of Candelaria, which affected the roofs of 22 homes,” the local authorities said.

The Institute of Meteorology of Cuba predicts for this Saturday that in much of the western and central regions it will continue to be largely cloudy “with showers, rains and some thunderstorms that will be strong and locally intense,” in some territories, although it predicted that the rains “will gradually decrease in the west in the afternoon.”

He also warned of tidal waves on the south-west and central coast and on the north west. “In the areas of showers and thunderstorms, both the strength of the winds and the height of the waves will increase.”

The heavy rains so far have left three dead in western Cuba and one missing.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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