Hurricane recovery efforts underway in Cuba

Campaign News | Friday, 15 July 2005

$1.4 billion in damage to housing and infrastructure

Granma International, Havana July 14: THE recovery work underway in Cuba is like a bigger, stronger hurricane that, instead of wreaking destruction like Dennis, aims to rebuild and returning the nation to normality as quickly as possible.

It is a titanic task, given that the meteorological monster dealt a heavy blow to Cuba’s housing, particularly in the central-eastern region; wrecked crops; slammed the nation’s infrastructure and seriously affected its electric power system, which it cut in half.

During a special presentation broadcast over radio and TV Monday night that took up the strategy for recovery work, President Fidel Castro explained that the damage left by the storm was estimated at $1.4 billion.

At this moment, however, what is even more amazing is the capacity of Cubans to wipe out the tracks of these atmospheric phenomena that are lashing the archipelago more and more frequently.

As the hurricane entered the Gulf of Mexico brigades of workers from different sectors had been formed to travel to the hardest-hit areas and help to repair the damages and set the country back in motion.

During his Monday talk, Fidel established a dialogue with the defense council presidents in each of the most affected areas, out of which the recovery strategy practically emerged.

The Cuban leader urged that the issues of food and shelter be resolved as quickly as possible, as well as the generation of electricity that is essential to guarantee basic services to the population.

He explained that various types of roofing material had been sent out to the different provinces, and that plans are to build 50,000 houses in 2005 as part of a goal of building an average of 100,000 homes per year in the years to follow.

Likewise, the president noted that Cuba had bought 220,000 tons of foodstuffs to supplement supplies in areas affected by the hurricane, as well as for people in the eastern region who have been suffering the effects of a long drought.

He affirmed that efforts are underway to raise life expectancy and quality of life for the nation’s citizens, even in the context of these natural phenomena that have been lashing the island with increasing frequency.

At the same time, Fidel rejected the $50,000 offered by the United States in hurricane aid, and affirmed that even if Washington were to offer one billion dollars, Cuba would not accept it.

"Let them lift that miserable, genocidal blockade and stop the persecution," the president emphasized, at the same time spurning any aid that European Community countries might offer, "because, after all, they took away the miserable aid that they call humanitarian," he commented.

Fidel noted that Cuba does accept a helping hand from countries that are its friends, even when it hasn’t asked for such help. "And we do have friends," he emphasized.

In that respect, he referred to the assistance offered by Venezuela, which has sent a ship with high-tension electricity posts for Cuba’s power network, which is always a victim of hurricanes.

It is with such encouragement that Cubans are now working, aiming for the destruction left by that raging hurricane to be nothing but a bad memory; its attempt at blocking our path, it appears, was an unsuccessful one. (PL)

Havana July 12: TROPICAL Storm Emily is advancing toward areas lashed by Hurricane Dennis, experts said today after studying projections for the fifth storm system of the season in the Atlantic, DPA reported from Miami.

It is believed that Emily will become this year’s second hurricane in the next 24-36 hours, when it nears eastern Puerto Rico. The hurricane season in the Atlantic begins on June 1 and ends November 30.

Emily is now about 1,360 kilometers east of the Lesser Antilles, and is moving 24 km per hour with sustained winds of 75 kph; if it continues its current trajectory, it will hit Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and possibly the southeastern United States.

"There is an anti-hurricane front, and that is what will decide more exactly the route that the storm will follow, something that we should know by Wednesday or Thursday," stated meteorologist Eduardo Rodríguez.

Behind Emily, a tropical wave formed today facing Africa’s western shores, and meteorologists plan to monitor it.

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