Irma Hit Cuba Hard
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)
On Friday evening, Hurricane Irma's eye hit Cuba's north coast Camaguey archipelago hard, winds at 155 MPH, just shy of category 5 strength - moving west/northwest across the island state before veering north later on Saturday.
According to the Havana Times, "(f)or nearly 12 hours the powerful Hurricane Irma has engulfed a good portion of Camaguey and neighboring Ciego de Avila provinces with hurricane and tropical storm force winds, heavy rains and huge waves."
"The eye of the storm passed near the famous Cayo Coco and Cayo Guillermo resorts…moving along the north coast of Villa Clara province."
At 8:00AM Saturday Cuba time, Irma's core was northwest of Caibarien, Villa Clara, causing significant damage in affected areas.
Winds slowed to 130MPH, Irma's strength weakening over land, expected to strengthen over waters heading to south Florida and arrive Sunday morning at category 4 strength.
Conditions in Havana are expected to worsen later on Saturday, a storm-surge in low-lying areas a major threat.
Heavy rain and severe winds battered the island since Friday night, a damage assessment unable to be carried out until Sunday after Irma passes.
So far no casualties were reported. According to meterologist Lixion Avila, Cuba prepares well for hurricanes. It "has a long history of excellent forecasting with a tremendous record of data," he said.
Most Atlantic hurricanes striking southern US areas pass through or near Cuba first. Protecting the public is prioritized. Authorities have well-planned storm preparations.
When they approach like Irma, state institutions mobilize for civil defense. Preparations and dealing with aftermath damage are exemplary.
According to Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas' Marguerite Jimenez, Cuba's preparedness combines comprehensive national and local emergency response plans."
Cubans are educated about disaster protection. Government strategy aims to protect everyone, wanting casualties minimized or avoided altogether.
Communities for the Defense of the Revolution were established in the mid-1960s - involved in providing the public with important information and responding to their needs.
Irma hit Cuba's northern coast with devastating force. An assessment will show how much damage was done.
No nation does a better job of preparing for natural disasters and responding to them responsibly when they occur than Cuba.
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