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Cuba Recovering from Hurricane Irma, Laments Loss of Life

Cuba Recovering from Hurricane Irma, Laments Loss of Life

September 11, 2017—As Hurricane Irma finally moved off the northern coast of Cuba yesterday, MEDICC praised disaster preparedness efforts and the recovery already underway, at the same time that it lamented the loss of ten lives thus far.

Schools, churches, underground shelters, and reinforced homes in the mountains: all were used to provide refuge for potential victims.  Lights were cut to avoid electrocutions from felled electricity lines; people in low-lying areas, including Havana’s seaside drive, were evacuated with their pets. As some have read, even dolphins were helicoptered to safety.

However, Hurricane Irma lingered over Cuba almost 24 hours and damages, not yet calculated, are certainly great. Linemen were sent from western Cuba to the central region to begin to re-establish the electrical grid, a task which promises to be one of the most daunting.

“We want to express our solidarity with Cubans throughout the island, with the families of those who lost their lives, with those who lost homes, and with the Cuban government as it gathers its resources to rebuild,” said Dr. William Keck, MEDICC Executive Director. “MEDICC has also followed closely the terrible devastation in other Caribbean islands and Florida, and our thoughts are with all people there, especially the most vulnerable,” he said.

Over 700 Cuban health professionals serve in the Caribbean, including a small team in Barbuda, one of the islands hardest hit.  The latest Cuban aid is being provided by linemen sent to Barbuda to help restore electricity. “We appreciate they have put their own lives at risk, and are committed to continue their services,” said Dr. Keck. Hundreds of Caribbean graduates of Havana’s Latin American School of Medicine are also serving in their countries, post-Irma.

ALERT: Once MEDICC has more details on recovery efforts in Cuba, we will let  you know how you can help.  So stay with us at medicc.org, on Facebook and Twitter @mediccglobal.  Donations can be made here, please specify “Help Hurricane Recovery for Cuba and Sustain US-Cuba Cooperation”

Cuba Hurrincane Irma

Residents helping each other in a shelter. Credit: Reuters

Aftermath of  Hurricane Irma

Collapsed building in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Credit: Radiodelsur

Hurricane Irma - Malecón in Havana

Storm surge along the Malecón in Havana. Credit: CubaAhora