Hurricane Irma Enters Cuba, Hits Hard

September 9, 2017 | Print Print |

By Circles Robinson

HAVANA TIMES – For nearly 12 hours the powerful Hurricane Irma has engulfed a good portion of Camaguey and neighboring Ciego de Avila provinces with hurricane and tropical storm force winds, heavy rains and huge waves. The eye of the storm passed near the famous Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo resorts, and now moves along the north coast of Villa Clara province.

The first place where Irma swept over Cuban land was in Cayo Romano to the north of Camaguey at 9:00 PM on Friday night.  Ever since, the center has straddled the coastline reaching far inland with its extensive bands.

At 8:00 a.m. Cuban time, the center of Irma was located by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) at 10 miles (15 kms) northwest of Caibarien, Villa Clara, where considerable damage is already evident, and 225 miles (365 kms) south of Miami, Florida. The storm covers a huge area with its dangerous winds and rains.

Since last night, Irma has slowed its advance some, now at 13 mph (19 km/h) as it continues to move west over the Cuban north coastline. It’s winds are now at 130 mph (215 km/h), weakened some over land, but the NHC expect it to strengthen once again when it distances itself from Cuba in route to Florida.

The hurricane and tropical storm force wind history of Hurricane Irma. National Hurricane Center

At some point later Saturday the center of Irma is expected to take a turn towards the northwest and by Sunday begin distancing itself from Cuban territory.  Nonetheless the authorities warn that the effects of the extensive storm will remain for several hours.

Many readers are concerned about the fate of specific places on the island but any damage reports will not be in until the storm settles and civil defense and local authorities can survey the territories. The task is massive.

In Havana

In the Cuban capital, where a tropical storm warning is in effect, Cubadebate reports that while the center of the storm is around 190 miles (300 kms) east of Havana, the capital awoke today with rains and some wind.

The situation in Havana is expected to worsen considerably as the day advances. A sea surge into the low lying neighborhoods along the Malecon seawall is one of the big threats for late Saturday and Sunday.


What's your opinion?

  • Moses Patterson

    The real problem for Havana is in the aftermath of the hurricane. The crumbling limestone buildings absorb a lot of the water during the storm. When the sun comes out and the buildings dry out, the connective strength of the buildings are diminished. Balconies tumble and staircases weaken. Entire outside building walls collapse. It has been estimated that Havana needs more than 1,000,000 additional housing units. Collapsing buildings only exacerbate the housing deficit.

    • Jim

      Such a jerk Moses. It’s too bad the milk of human kindness curdled in you. At a time of disaster you don’t have the decency and humanity to climb off you pedestal(soapbox) and let go of your political rants. I tru,y feel sorry for you. If you had that great a concern for Cuba you would be on your way to help not sniping from afar

      • Batista Bruno

        No doubt Patterson will be coming back shortly with the “how he has helped/the good he has done etc” …

        • Moses Patterson

          Not at all. My family in Guantanamo was not terribly affected. They, however, are still feeling the effects of Sandy. I know what I have to do for them. I will let the Castros and their sycophants do the rest this time.

      • Moses Patterson

        WTF? No sniping here. If you knew squat about Havana, you would understand that my comment is sadly true. You should read the recent HT post “Cuba: Varadero Resorts Endangerd By Hurricane Irma”. http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=127178. Particularly what the HT editor writes “…..but the debilitated housing stock throughout the country and especially in Havana put the country at great risk. Recovery from past hurricanes is still underway, with the housing and building material needs way below demand.” Crumbling infrastructure is a huge problem. One more thing: I have loved ones in Cuba. I don’t need you or anyone else to remind me of what I should be doing. I am doing it and commenting here at HT at the same time.

      • Carlyle MacDuff

        Now that Irma has passed Jim, you will realise from the reports that the comments made by Moses Patterson regarding buildings in Havana, are sadly all too true. So who is the Jerk Jim?

  • Gerard Matthews

    Time for the Government to dig up some of the money that it has squirreled away over the years for a rainy day, well people that rainy day is now, so get busy and give assistance to your people Mr Castro. As Mr Moses Patterson has pointed out this problem is enormous throughout Cuba.

  • Ginni

    Yes, New Housing should be #1 behind infrastructure. I was in your lovely Country this time last year
    with a tour group, right after Matthew hit the Eastern part of the Country and then they said it would take years for any kind of housing to be built for those displaced. So sad! I was also there five years ago with a professional group and we said that a Home Depot or Lowes was needed to help with the limited construction that people were doing themselves. With all the $ that CUBA has taken in from tourism, it needs to be spent on upgrading the airport and for various needs of the People there i.e. housing, community centers, services i.e. water and utilities, etc.

  • DavidJCCooper

    Videos in Cuba show no flying debris. I have friends in Casilda and La Boca on the South Coast and they report fallen wires and trees. There are many cement roofs, but they fear flooding. Given the government”s “people first” and general preparation I expect Cuba to survive better than anywhere else.

    • Moses Patterson

      If by survive, you mean avoiding loss of life, you are probably correct. But if survival includes the quality of life in the aftermath of Irma, I am no so sure.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      If you had viewed the BBC North America channel, you would have seen flying debris. Moses Patterson is factual in his comments about the housing conditions in Havana but ‘Jim’ is silly enough to suggest that his comments reflect a lack of “decency and humanity”. He ought to have reserved such comment for the those who have permitted the infrastructure of Cuba to deteriorate for fifty eight years.

      • DavidJCCooper

        I spoke too soon.

  • Luciano

    I am relieved that despite the heavy damage, no deaths have been reported. We send our love to all the wonderful people of Cuba and will be back to visit and help as best we can soon.

    • editorht

      We hope that is the case. A big problem is that communication lines and electricity are out in a good portion of the country where Irma passed.

  • Ginni

    Yes, look what the US is going to do for the USVI, that FRANCE is going to do for St. Martan and HOLLAND is going to do for it’s island. CUBA needs to step up to the plate and be more Humanitarian to it’s People!!!

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Although I agree that the Castro regime is more concerned with the promotion and application of communism rather than bothering itself about being humanitarian, It has very efficient systems of moving people away from areas endangered by hurricanes. For example they have moved people into the 39 military “bunkers” which are really similar to tunnels, and into schools in the middle of the island.

  • Irma Chard

    Hi there…I don’t usually comment on forums, however, I would like to say that Havana has, for the past few years, been renovating and strengthening the downtown core…however, It may be a case of …too little, too late. We have friends, in… and a trip booked in three weeks, to Jibocoa. It is located between Veradero, and Havana. Can anyone tell me how hard this area has been affected, by Irma? Any info is greatly appreciated.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      The media reports Irma are that Matanzas where Jibacoa is situated on the coast, has been very hard hit. That road along the northern coast is very exposed, but is key for both the tourism sector coaches and for Santa Cruz del Norte which is the centre of the oil sector and where we have friends. Right now the power cuts are making contact impossible.