Taking Stock of the Flood Damage in Havana / 14ymedio

Havana is recovering after the strong flooding from the sea along Havana’s Malecon. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 24 January 2017 — The hectically busy residents of the areas bordering Havana’s Malecón, on Tuesday, tried to repair the damages left by seawater flooding over the seawall the previous day. The strong northwestern winds associated with an extensive extratropical low pressure over the state of South Carolina have submerged the dreams of many families.

“It was strong and very fast, not as moderate as they said on television. There was a lot of water flowing,” says Lázaro, a resident of Arcos Passage on 3rd Avenue and A Street in the Vedado district.

“It was not like other years because this time they did not warn us in time and the team of people who always help with the evacuation did not show up.”

Victoria, a resident of the same street, is sweeping the sand that reached to her doorway. At the same time last year there was something similar in the area, “but not so intense,” she says, tired of all the hustle and bustle.

Wet mattresses, refrigerators damaged by salt and humidity,and the lamentations of the unprepared state, are part of the scene along the Malecon

Wet mattresses, refrigerators damaged by salt and humidity, and the lamentations of the unprepared state, are part of the scene along the Malecon.

While taking a break, Victoria tells her neighbor that the water once again reached Calzada but this year it also got as far as Linea Street. She says that in her house “all night I couldn’t sleep because of the beating of the waves,” and regrets that “they have not cleaned the streets as they are doing in front of the Meliá Cohiba hotel.”

The floods went from moderate to strong in a few hours on the north coast, including the Havana Malecon, taking many unawares. Just after four in the afternoon one could see cars drifting on the water, and the sewers were black holes where the currents swirled.

In the afternoon the tides continued high on the Havana coastline. (14ymedio)

On A and B Streets water penetrated more than four blocks into the city. Several warehouses, like the one at 3rd and C, lost part of their merchandise because the workers did not have time to raise up all the sacks of rice, sugar or beans.

One family has lost everything because their house was a garage turned into a home because of the deficit of housing. “We didn’t see it coming and by the time we realized, everything was underwater,” was all that the woman managed to repeat, as she rescued swollen chairs from a mixture of seawater, mud and garbage.

Victoria, a resident, regrets that “they have not cleaned the streets as they are doing in front of the Meliá Cohiba hotel

In front of the Labiofam offices at 1st and B, cars “had all four tires in the air,” explains Ramiro, a resident, while pumping out the water that entered his garage. The man, who lives in the 110 building behind the Presidente Hotel, complains that those in charge of decontaminating the water tanks are “delayed” and in similar situations “they let some three days go by to force the residents to solve the problems on our own.”

In many private businesses the employees were busy from the early hours of the morning cleaning, getting the water out, and trying to save what wasn’t washed away with the current, while repairing the damage.

A group of people who had approached the seawall to enjoy the waves breaking over it were alerted by the whistles of police officers who guarded each block; the law enforcement officials explained to the reckless that it is very dangerous because “a stone can fly up and hit you.”

As reported by the Forecast Center of the Institute of Meteorology, coastal flooding began to decrease “gradually” from this morning, but in the early hours of the afternoon there were still heavy tidal waves.