Although America has been facing turmoil from recent hurricane Irma so has its closest Caribbean neighbor: Cuba. More than 85% of the nation was affected by the category 5 storm that beset the island during a 72-hour time span. Irma eventually weakened to a category 3, before leaving to make its way to Southern Florida. Hurricane Irma has resulted in 10 deaths – one of the highest death tolls from Irma of any country. It is believed that many deaths and injuries were prevented due to Cuba’s “sophisticated early evacuation” procedures. Many government buildings, businesses, and homes have also been decimated. However, the Cuban spirit remains strong. The Cuban people are hopeful for the future and many families have been helping each other get food and find clean water, even though this has been a daunting task. With the severe flooding, a lot of Cuban crops have been destroyed. Specifically, much of the country’s plantain, sugar cane, tobacco, and rice crops. These crops are not only the primary source of food but also a primary source to the economy.
The flooding has not only caused contaminated water sources, but also has been responsible for isolating various people from reaching other necessary resources. Buildings have collapsed from faulty foundations. These collapses are what have killed at least four victims. The government has alerted people to remain cautious of flooded buildings, due to the high risk for potential injury or even death. Despite the losses, many Cubans have volunteered to help each other and their communities. Most of the relief efforts are coming from independent volunteers. Government relief workers are on site in cities like Havana; however, flooding has prevented them from getting to certain remote areas. It is estimated to take several months to restore what has been lost across the nation.
Regarding tourism, another major faction of the Cuban economy, some famed places like Havana and Varadero have been brutally impacted by Hurricane Irma. Castro has also released statements saying that some of the country is having electrical difficulties because of the storm as well. Even though these touristic destinations are not at their best, Castro and the Cuban government are working to make sure these places are open and safe to visitors. It is expected to have all tourism resurrected by the high season. Raul Castro has called for the Cuban people to keep their spirits and hopes high and to continue helping in relief efforts, for together they can achieve a lot.