Irma’s heavy toll on Cuba slowly revealed

One image alone reveals the destructive potential of hurricane Irma:

Crashing waves in Havana harbor topped the lighthouse at Morro Castle.

And Irma didn’t even make a direct hit on Havana.

The rest of the island is in tatters, especially along the resort-studded Apartheid Gold Coast.

From Granma Lite (Associated Press)

Powerful waves and a storm surge from Hurricane Irma topped Havana’s iconic Malecon seawall and left thousands of homes, businesses and hotels swamped Sunday, even as the storm moved away from the island.

There were no immediate reports of fatalities in Cuba, where the government prides itself on disaster preparedness and said it had carried out evacuations totaling more than 1 million people.

Authorities warned that the floodwaters could linger for more than a day, and there was as-yet uncalculated damage to sugar cane and banana fields in central Cuba and to northern cays studded with all-inclusive resorts, potentially dealing a major blow to the country’s key tourism industry.

The powerful storm ripped roofs off homes, collapsed buildings and caused floods along hundreds of miles of coastline after cutting a trail of destruction across the Caribbean. Irma has killed at least 24 people in the region, leaving officials scrambling to bring aid to shattered communities.

In Havana, home to 2 million people, central neighborhoods along the coast between the Almendares River and Havana harbor suffered the brunt of the flooding, with seawater penetrating as much as a third of a mile inland in places.

 

Waves as high as 20 feet continued to pound Havana, with the spray topping the lighthouse at the Morro fortress at the entrance to the bay, and Civil Defense Col. Luis Angel Macareno warned that the flooding would persist into Monday.

Emergency workers and residents boated and waded through streets littered with debris: toppled trees, downed electrical lines, roofs torn off by the winds and concrete water tanks that fell from atop homes….

… Floodwaters entered the high-end Melia Cohiba and Riviera hotels, where the storm damaged the buildings, landscaping and roofing.

The waters and winds also damaged the seaside U.S. Embassy, tossing around shipping containers that sit on the compound, smashing parts of its black perimeter fence, ripping exterior panels from the building and breaking windows and doors. The embassy’s flag was in tatters fluttering from its staff Sunday….

…Communist Party newspaper Granma reported that the Jardines del Rey airport serving the northern cays was “destroyed” and posted photos to Twitter showing the shattered terminal hall littered with debris.

Whole story HERE