Cuba: Sandy latest in decade of devastating storms

Tropical storm Sandy had become a Category 2 hurricane by the time it slammed into eastern Cuba early Oct. 25. Eleven were killed in the eastern provinces of Santiago and Guantánamo. Official sources reported that 132,733 homes were damaged in Santiago province, of which 15,322 were destroyed; 1,052 homes were leveled in just two villages, Banes and Antilla, on the northeastern coast in neighboring Holguín province. The dozen homes that made up the small fishing village of Tortuguilla in Guantánamo province were swept away. In the central provinces, heavy rains caused flooding; an official in Encrucijada municipality, Villa Clara province, told the local press the floods there were the worst in 30 years.

Sandy follows a pattern of severe hurricanes striking Cuba in recent years, including Michelle in 2001 and Dennis in 2005, and the combined effect of Gustav, Ike and Paloma in 2008. Economic damage was extensive, with banana, coffee, bean and sugar crops ruined throughout the region. As of Oct. 27 Venezuela had promised to send a total 611 tons of humanitarian aid to be split between Cuba and Haiti. (La Jornada, Mexico, Oct. 27, from correspondent; AP, Oct. 28, via Miami Herald)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Nov. 4.