14ymedio, Havana, 30 August 2023 — Florida remains in suspense before the imminent arrival of Idalia, which will reach the coast of Big Bend as a category 4 hurricane, according to the forecasts of the National Hurricane Center (NHC) of the United States. Its fleeting passage through Cuba, even as a tropical storm, left hundreds of thousands of people without power. Cubans are now expecting the tail end of the hurricane, with floods and strong winds along the western coast.
“Now we have to work urgently on electric service, communications and agriculture and prepare safer conditions, because remember that we are still going to have one or two more days of rainfall,” Miguel Díaz-Canel said at a meeting of the Council of Ministers to evaluate the situation of the affected provinces.
The most affected was again Pinar del Río, where Idalia entered and left. Around 8 p.m., the electricity company warned that only 28% of its 235,000 customers had power. The linemen, some of them from other provinces such as Sancti Spíritus and Cienfuegos, planned to work during the night to recover power in the municipal capitals and, later, the distribution to smaller towns.
The director of Education pointed out that there are 24 damaged schools, and this is not the most serious thing, but there are 125 that have not yet recovered from Ian’s passage in September 2022
The school year should begin next Monday on the Island, but in Pinar del Río the worst is feared. The director of Education pointed out that there are 24 damaged schools, and this is not the most serious thing, but there are 125 that have not yet recovered from Ian’s passage in September 2022.
Ian was much larger, and there are still 60,000 homes affected in the province, to which must be added those left yesterday by Idalia. There were also 17,652 telephone services and 915 data connections out of service this Tuesday. The damage to agriculture is unknown, especially to tobacco, which, despite preventive measures, is expected to be damaged.
Yamilé Ramos Cordero, first secretary of the Provincial Party Committee in the province, said that the data will not be known until Wednesday, although 20,000 people were evacuated. “The biggest concern is the increased amount of water in the rivers and the forecast that we may have coastal flooding,” she added.
The power situation has been a big problem after the storm. In Artemisa, which did not suffer heavy rains, 80% of users lost electricity at some point, a total of 117,434. “The biggest effects occurred in the electrical service. There were 390 people evacuated, most of them to the homes of family and friends and 11 to the ESBU Guillermo Castillo, authorized for such purposes,” said Luis Felipe Azcuy Curbelo, president of the Municipal Defense Council.
The same thing happened in Havana, although the percentage has been less significant: 47,980 customers were left without power, of which 60% had recovered service around 5 p.m. This Thursday, 20 brigades of linemen from different provinces will arrive to join the 27 in the capital to normalize the situation, with Thursday as the deadline, with the exception of connections, meter counters and the input of current, which will be repaired on Friday.
Another big problem for Havana was the water supply linked to the supply systems, which are electric. There are 53,906 people who don’t have service, according to the assessment of the Provincial Defense Council, and 3,782 were left without water distributed by tanker trucks due to the adverse weather.
On the Isle of Youth there were 4,326 people who lost electricity, and part of the concern has been focused on protecting the poultry, livestock and fishing industries. The companies insist that there have been no problems with the poultry or leaks that have affected the feed, and the boats were covered, while the pigs and sheep were moved to higher ground.
53,906 people have no service, according to the assessment of the Provincial Defense Council, and 3,782 were left without water distributed by tanker trucks
For the next few hours, isolated showers and thunderstorms are expected throughout the Island, with winds of moderate intensity, while Idalia heads towards Florida. The NHC warned in its most recent report about a rapid intensification, which will leave “catastrophic tides and destructive winds” on the north coast of the state this Wednesday, when it will move inland.
“There is going to be a storm surge everywhere in the Big Bend that will have a very important and significant impact on that region, whether the walls of the hurricane hit it or not,” Governor DeSantis warned the population from Tallahassee, the state capital.
The governor of the state (Republican) urged residents to go to evacuation zones, especially if they are in low or coastal areas, or to seek refuge in shelters (up to 50 have been enabled), hotels or homes of friends located in higher and safer places.
“You have to leave now. If you don’t, tomorrow morning will be very unpleasant, and if you decide to stay, the rescuers will not be able to locate you until after the hurricane,” he insisted.
More than 1.6 million people have orders to evacuate their homes in Florida, where Idalia will advance and turn northeast and east-northeast, “approaching the coasts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina on Wednesday and Thursday.”
Translated by Regina Anavy
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