Cuba Gives Priority Homes Damaged by Tornado

Havana, Feb 21 (Prensa Latina) Still less one month after the devastating impact of a tornado in several Havana municipalities, the recovery of the damaged houses shows progress and continues as a priority, authorities quoted by the press stated on Thursday.

Several media publish a summary of the Council of Ministers meeting held on Wednesday to follow up the response to the January 27 tornado, led by Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, addressed the issue of housing.

The tornado damaged almost 8,000 houses, about 752 were totally collapsed after its passing through Diez de Octubre, Guanabacoa, Regla, Cerro and Habana del Este, the first three municipalities were severely hit.

According to National Civil Defense Staff head, Major General Ramon Pardo, about 640 people remain sheltered, because they lost all their material belongings.

Construction Minister (MICONS) Rene Mesa said that of 7,923 damaged houses, about 2,500 have been totally restored, while the 22 total collapses have been resolved.

Around 4,000 builders from several agencies are working on recovering houses, he said.

MICONS official Norberto Perez stressed that a strategy has been drawn up to deal with the construction of houses totally collapsed, which includes the definition of reconstructing 459 in the same place where they were before, placing 72 in new locations and 273 in adapted buildings.

About 804 homes will be fit out, 52 more than the total collapses caused by the tornado, as of some families lived in overcrowding, he said.

Diaz-Canel called during the Wednesday meeting to maintain the pace of work until all problems caused by the phenomenon have been resolved.

  • Published in Cuba

President Miguel Díaz-Canel praises recovery efforts in Havana in wake of devastating tornado

A special edition of the prime TV program Mesa Redonda was aired Wednesday evening to inform public opinion about recovery efforts in Havana in the wake of severe damage caused by a devastating tornado in five municipalities: Cerro, Diez de Octubre, Guanabacoa, Regla and Habana del Este.

Participants in the special program included President Miguel Díaz-Canel, ministers, the civil defense chief, government and political authorities, as well as leaders of youth and grassroots organizations.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel was the first to speak. He again sent condolences, on behalf of the government and the people, to the families of those killed by the tornado.

He went on to explain that within minutes of the passage of the tornado, firefighters, the police and leaders of the Ministry of the Interior and Civil Defense, health workers and most importantly, the people themselves converged on the area and began to assist victims. The Cuban president stressed that the view was that of a war-zone.

The first meeting of the Council of Ministers took place in the early morning hours of Monday, January 28th at 6:00 a.m.. He emphasized that the swift response prevented further loss of human lives, since there were people trapped under the rubble of collapsed buildings and homes and inside overturned buses and vehicles.

The strategy from the very beginning, said Díaz-Canel, has been, first of all, to protect human lives, assist victims, evacuate those affected, assess the damage and start the recovery work.

General Ramón Pardo Guerra, Civil Defense chief, explained that the traditional torchlight march, which Cubans hold every year on January 27th, on the eve of a new anniversary of the birth of our national hero José Martí, had been postponed due to the forecast of bad weather, and that it was not until a little after 8:00 p.m. on Sunday that the tornado had formed and was quickly traveling, hitting several Havana municipalities.

He said that within minutes, the Civil Defense began to receive reports of traffic accidents, the downing of trees, and the collapse of buildings and houses.

In roughly seven days, said the Civil Defense chief, 90% of all basic services in the affected areas had been restored, while those who lost their homes were accommodated in temporary shelters where they are provided all the necessary services.

Minister of Health Dr. José Ángel Portal Miranda reported that a total of 19 health facilities sustained damage, most of them in the municipality of Diez de Octubre. He explained that the maternity hospital Hijas de Galicia, was the hardest hit, while a number of polyclinics and family-doctors’ offices were also affected.

He pointed out that despite the severe damage, by February 20th, all the affected health facilities should be up and running.

The Cuban health minister highlighted the swift response of rescue teams, health workers, doctors, nurses, technicians, the Cuban Red Cross, and the more than 5,000 medical students, whose efforts have been instrumental in assisting the victims, as well as in the evacuation of newborn babies and pregnant women from the Hijas de Galicia maternal hospital, even those who were in the intensive care unit.

Out of the 195 people wounded by the tornado, only 18 remain hospitalized, five of them in critical condition, while the devastating storm claimed six lives.

He added that out of the 196 patients, pregnant women and newborns evacuated from the Hijas de Galicia maternity hospital to other hospitals, 38 remain hospitalized. Anti-vector and other preventive actions have been stepped up to prevent epidemic outbreaks.

Minister of Domestic Trade Betsy Díaz Velázquez spoke about supply and distribution of canned food, eggs, agricultural products, and other basic items to residents in the affected areas at significantly lower prices. The domestic trade ministry, she said, is also in charge of distributing construction materials and water tanks.

Minister of Energy and Mining Raul Garcia Barreiro said that by January 28, within 24 hours of the tornado, teams of engineers and technicians from Cuba’s Unión Eléctrica had already toured the affected areas and were assessing the damage and implementing the necessary measures to prevent further loss of human life.

The minister of telecommunications reported that all services, landlines, cellphones and WiFi areas were seriously affected, particularly in the municipality of Diez de Octubre. Thanks to the coordinated effort of the sector’s workers, including teams from other provinces, from Ciego de Ávila to Pinar del Rio, nearly 100% of all affected services, including radio communications, have been restored.

René Mesa, Minister of Construction, explained that a total of 4,812 houses were damaged, 505 of them were total collapses. He said that the State will take care of building new homes for those who lost theirs, while more than 900 families, whose houses suffered other damage, have already received construction materials to repair them.

Meanwhile, Reinaldo García, government president in Havana, spoke about donations received for the victims, as gestures of solidarity from Cubans on the island and people around the world.

He explained that authorities have set up 28 points to collect donations, which are organized to help those who need it most. He thanked Cubans and friends of Cuba all over the world for the countless demonstrations of solidarity with the tornado victims.

Raúl Alejandro Palmero, president of the Federation of University Students (FEU), spoke about the support of students in recovery efforts.

The youth leader explained that more than 10 thousand students have been involved, visiting and accompanying those affected by the tornado, collecting and distributing donations, cleaning the streets and repairing family homes. “These are the same students who marched alongside our government leaders in homage to our National Hero José Martí,” he said.

At the end of the special TV program, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel spoke about the slander campaigns against Cuba in the mainstream media. He emphasized that the enemies of Cuba and our Revolution are trying to divide us, discrediting every effort toward full recovery. He stressed that the recovery works will continue for as long as necessary and that, as always, no one will be left behind. He thanked all those who inside and outside of Cuba have showed their solidarity with the victims and the Cuban people in general.

  • Published in Cuba

Diaz-Canel Calls to Tackle Housing Problem after Tornado

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has called to tackle housing problem caused in Havana by a devastating tornado and expedite construction and repair.

During a summary of the Council of Ministers meeting held on Tuesday to follow up the recovery, the President insisted on going into detail in the communities hit by the tornado, so all damages are identified.

The Cuban Statesman informed participants to guarantee the quality of the technical data of each affected house, in order to avoid mistakes to resolve the problems created by the January 27 tornado.

Diaz-Canel demanded an effective functioning of the mechanisms activated to respond to the damage in houses, particularly the procedures offices and the points where the affected people can buy the construction materials.

Construction Minister Rene Mesa said during the meeting that more than 4,800 homes were affected, 380 of which suffered total collapses.

According to the minister, the identification of damages, recovery works, roof assembly and wall lifting continues after the lashing of the tornado in the municipalities of Regla, Guanabacoa, Diez de Octubre and San Miguel del Padron.

The restoration of communications was also analyzed. Communication Minister Jorge Luis Perdomo stated that the works continue in Diez de Octubre municipality, where, in addition to recovering damages, a new investment is being carrying out to replace wiring.

  • Published in Cuba

Who Benefits from the Tornado of Lies in Facebook?

Fake News are now plentiful in Facebook and seek to reaffirm the already old opinion trend on the uselessness of the state to solve national problems that has been used by Cuba’s enemies to justify the blockade and other aggressive politics against the Island.

The last electric poles had not yet reached the ground in the different neighborhoods affected by the tornado on January 27th and Facebook was already pondering the great "humanity and solidarity" of alleged freelancers opposed to the inexistent inaction of the state.

Nothing more biased and ridiculous if we take into account the role that has always played the Cuban government in the face of similar catastrophes which is exemplary for almost all countries worldwide and it has been recognized, more than once by different international organizations. Cubans, like nobody else, has not just demonstrated to be solidary with its own people, but also, with the peoples of other countries.

Likewise, the presumed disorder and "inaction" of the state becomes motive for certain donations that rather than solidarity hide the manipulation of the topic of the so-called "humanitarian help", a plot largely used in the past by the U.S. to give reason for invasions against those countries that don't bend to their hegemony.

The best example in this sort of media approach is evidenced right now in Venezuela, where after a cruel economic battle directed from the U.S. against that country, now the puppet stringed from the White House seeks to use the unfortunate help offered by the U.S., and the nations rallied behind them to pull the Venezuelan people out of the crisis.

Needless to say that after almost 60 years of relentless blockade against Cuba, worsen in the last weeks it’s at least revolting to become an accomplice of such trick.

Let’s not forget that, shortly before the passing of the devastating tornado in Havana, the Task Force for the internet in Cuba directed from the United States had activated the campaign to influence the referendum of the Constitution scheduled for next February 24th therefore is not strange to see in social networks associated to the lies about the tornado the hashtag #yovotono.

We must repeat that shortly before the end of last year, in a budgetary report of the Broadcasting Board of Governors of the United States, it became public the plan of using «native» and «unmarked» Cuban Facebook accounts to spread content fabricated by the U.S. government.

The objective of these contents was to set confusion among those who still naively believe that social networks are a trustworthy source of news. Neither humanitarian, neither solidary, their true objective is to incite dissatisfaction and cause riots and public disobedience that, besides attempting against the civic harmony, pouring fuel to new campaigns of lies against Cuba.

We must bear in mind the international context in which this tornado of lies occurs. Last Friday, the fascist U.S. National Security Advisor, John Bolton, was crystal clear when he repeated that the publicized massacre against the Venezuelan people is only the first step of the war of that country against what he calls the "troika of tyranny" that also includes Nicaragua and Cuba.

  • Published in Specials

Two dead, eight missing in Texas storm


About 30% of the city of Van, Texas, suffered damage in an apparent tornado late Sunday, Fire Marshall Charles Allen said Monday. Between 50 and 100 homes were damaged, he said.

  • Published in World
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