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Saturday, May 27, 2023

Cuba without power after Hurricane Ian knocked out the electricity grid

Earlier on Tuesday, Ian made landfall on the island’s west coast as a Category 3 hurricane. The country’s 11 million inhabitants once again have regular access to electricity.

Havana, Cuba — After Hurricane Ian knocked out its energy grid and destroyed some of the country’s most important tobacco farms, Cuba remained in the dark as an extreme storm battered the island’s western tip.

According to a press release from the Cuban Electricity Union, authorities regularly restored energy to the country’s 11 million inhabitants within a day. Initially, about 1 million people in Cuba’s western provinces misplaced energy, but then the entire energy grid collapsed.

Ian has met a Cuban in recent months who is battling financial disaster and frequent energy outages. It made landfall on the western part of the island as a Category 3 storm and devastated the province of Pinar del Río, which grows large quantities of tobacco used in Cuba’s iconic cigars.

Hundreds of people were evacuated and others fled the kingdom before Ian arrived, causing floods, destroyed houses and fallen bushes. Still, authorities have been assessing injuries, although no deaths were reported as of Tuesday night.

Ian’s Windbreak is considered one of the most important tobacco farms in La Robaina, Cuba.

“It’s the end of the world, it’s a real disaster,” said Hirochi Robaina, the farmer who holds his identity and whose grandfather has a worldwide reputation.

Robaina, who also owns cigar maker Finca Robaina, posted images on social media of razed timber and thatched roofs, destroyed greenhouses and overturned railcars.

State media reported that Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel had visited the affected area.

“It was scary for me in a hurricane, but we are alive,” said Yusimí Palacios from Pinar del Rio, who asked authorities for roofs and mattresses.

Officials arranged 55 shelters and took steps to protect crops, especially tobacco.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Cuba experienced “significant wind and storm surge impacts” as the hurricane hit sustained peak winds of 125 mph.

Ian is expected to ride the wind and waves over the beautiful and comfortable Gulf of Mexico, reaching top winds of 130 mph (209 kph) as he approaches the southwest coast of Florida, where 2.5 million people have been ordered to evacuate.

As the middle of the storm pushed into the Gulf, there were spectacles of devastation in Cuba. Still, authorities have been assessing the injuries to his world-famous tobacco belt.

Local government broadcaster TelePinar reported serious injuries at the main hospital in the city of Pinar del Rio, and tweeted images of collapsed ceilings and fallen bushes. No deaths were reported.

Films on social media confirmed damaged energy stress and road closures in the provinces of Pinar del Rio, Artemisa and Mayabeque. A hospital in Pinar del Río was damaged.

“The town was flooded,” said Andy Muñoz, a 37-year-old farmer who lives in Playa Cajío in Artemisa.

He said many people lost their belongings in the storm surge.

“I spent it with my husband and dog in the hurricane. The brickwork and zinc roof of the house was in place. However, the storm destroyed it,” lives connecting Pinar del Rio with San Juan and Martine Mercedes Valdes said on the Autobahn. “We couldn’t save our stuff… we just got out.”

Associated Press reporter Osvaldo Angulo in Pinar del Rio contributed to this report.

Cuba powers out after Hurricane Ian knocks out power grid

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