HAVANA – At least 4,288 homes in Havana were damaged during the passage of Hurricane Irma, of which 157 collapsed completely and 986 were partially destroyed, according to preliminary reports published Wednesday in the Cuban press.
In the Cuban capital, at least 818 roofs were destroyed and 1,555 others were damaged, the state-run daily Granma reported in its summary of a meeting of the Havana Defense Council attended by top officials with the island’s government, the Communist Party and the armed forces.
“In the face of this situation, the roofs of the buildings are being restored ... and two sites – one in the Havana municipality of Arroyo Naranjo and another in La Lisa – are being equipped ... to shelter families who suffered property damage,” Granma said.
The report does not specify the areas where the damaged homes are located, but the areas of the capital most affected by the storm were the neighborhoods of Vedado, Central Havana, Old Havana and Miramar, where the storm surge came some 300 meters (330 yards) in from the coastline.
Central Habana and Old Havana also have a large number of old houses, some of which are in poor repair.
Of the 10 people known to have died in Cuba as a result of Hurricane Irma, the majority lost their lives in building collapses.
Irma hit the capital on Saturday afternoon and evening, its extremely heavy winds causing serious damage to the local electric grid by downing power lines, and thus many parts of Havana have remained without electricity and potable water for more than 72 hours.
Reports are that “100 percent of the fire stations are hydraulically ready to begin water service in the capital and the Cuenca Sur – the main (water) supply source for the city – was able to be stabilized.”
So far, potable water is not available in certain areas “due to electricity problems” and the supply sources in the Havana area town of Santiago de las Vegas, and in the rest of the affected areas service is being provided via cistern trucks.
In Old Havana, the state-run Aguas de La Habana water supply company has prioritized the homes standing along the emblematic Malecon, the capital’s seaside boulevard, where the cisterns of schools and buildings are being cleaned, disinfected and filled with fresh water, given that seawater from Irma’s storm surge contaminated them.
Food distribution and preparation centers have been set up in eight capital municipalities “to guarantee reasonable prices ... mainly to sheltered families.”
Provincial authorities have said that the health system is “continuing its efforts to prevent epidemics.”
Hundreds of trees are down all over Havana, some of them blocking traffic along certain roadways and others resting on power lines and other infrastructure, and the streets nearest the sea are filled with rocks, sand, household items and assorted trash washed in by the storm surge.