Irma struck Havana following its devastating path along the country's northern coastline. Although the eye had begun to move away from the island, the hurricane's effect was felt September 9 in the capital with the arrival of tropical storm force winds.
Given the direction and intensity of the hurricane, the Havana Provincial Defense Council had ordered stepped measures to protect the population living in low-lying areas, where sea flooding is common, with the focus on preserving human life.
Before dawn that Saturday, evacuations began, moving residents to secure locations. The storm's fury created waves more than 10 meters high and flooding extended half a kilometer inland in some parts of the city. The damage caused surpassed that left by the Storm of the Century in 1993.
In Irma's wake, Havana reported damages to housing, infrastructure, and roads. The municipalities most affected by fallen trees were Playa, Diez de Octubre, San Miguel del Padrón, Centro Habana, and Cotorro. Although the panorama for inhabitants was harsh, as it was for the entire country, the city was mobilized to take the next step: recovery.
The priorities were clear: reestablish electrical service for two million residents; assure regular access to potable water; and repair the 40% of schools damaged to reopen classrooms - accomplished for the most part within a few days.
Mercedes López Acea, Political Bureau member and president of the Provincial Defense Council, called on the population to support recovery workers. The mixed brigades created in the area were joined by others from unaffected provinces and residents, to repair the damage as quickly as possible.
In areas affected by flooding along Havana's waterfront Malecón, the work of many entities was coordinated, with a view toward improving conditions in state institutions and reestablishing the provision of services. A similar effort was mounted in the severely affected neighborhoods of Cojímar, Guanabo, and Jaimanitas.
And special attention was paid to meeting economic objectives established for 2017. Thanks to the population's response, the year concluded with positive results in the majority of entities.
The first Category 5 hurricane to hit Cuba since 1932 could not get the best of the island's people. Irma cased great damage, but we found a way to overcome with an equally strong effort, as we have in the face of other disasters, always with the confidence that the Revolution abandons no one.
FACTS AND FIGURES
• 4,083 dwellings were reported as affected, 127 totally destroyed and the homes of 251 families were inhabitable as a result of extensive damage.
• Some 3,733 families have purchased construction materials, representing 91.4% of those in need, and 90% of the rebuilding and repair work has been completed.
• Work is advancing on several buildings of different types to provide homes for those whose dwellings were destroyed.
• Temporary groups at the municipal level are working on solutions to housing needs that do not create new problems for the province's housing stock.
• Of 80 installations affected, 69 have been rebuilt or repaired, representing 86% of the total. Work to be completed mainly at dairies and greenhouses.
• Of all damages reported, 89.4% have been repaired, while resources are available to complete work on the rest.
Affected were 26 facilities. All damage has been repaired.
RETAIL AND RESTAURANT SERVICES
Reports indicate that 123 sites were damaged, of which 108, or 87.8%, have been repaired.
Some 30 areas reported damage, including 2.9 km of streets, sidewalks, and storm sewers, 3 tunnels, and one bridge. All repaired.
WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM
Affected were 204 pump stations and 68 chlorination facilities. All damage has been repaired.
Damaged were 692 utility poles, 45 switch cabinets, and 71,020 service lines. All repaired.
Some 143 utility poles were damaged, along with 3,000 kilometers of lines and 400 transformers. All repairs completed.
Reporting damage were 22 facilities, 21 of which have been repaired. Work continues on the Kid Chocolate center.