ACT Alert No 45/2008: Hurricane Paloma hits Cuba

News and Press Release
Originally published
Geneva, 13 November 2008 - On 8 November, Hurricane Paloma made landfall in Cuba, near Santa Cruz del Sur, as a Category 4 storm. Paloma quickly weakened into a Category 3 hurricane with winds of 115 mph (185 km/hrs) and torrential rains, and further, to a tropical depression over Cuba, reports the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The Meteorology Institute distributed sixteen warnings ahead of the tropical cyclone and the Civil Defense communicated the evacuation plans on 6 November. The Civil Defense evacuated more than 1.2 million people. Close to 220,000 people were housed in 1,448 shelters, while others sought shelter with friends and families. Some 4,000 vehicles and 13 trains were used in the evacuation. The transport provided greatly minimized the loss of life.

Although the assessment process is not yet completed, initial information reveals severe damage of public services, roads, electricity poles, agricultural infrastructure, houses and property. The most affected zones are the municipalities of Santa Cruz del Sur and Najasa in the south of Camag=FCey province, and Amancio y Manatí in the Las Tunas province. These areas were already affected by Hurricane Ike about eight weeks earlier and have not yet entirely recovered. The damage is considerable. In just the town of Santa Cruz del Sur about 400 houses were completely destroyed and many others suffered severe damage.

ACT is a global alliance of churches and related agencies working to save lives and support communities in emergencies worldwide.

The ACT Coordinating Office is based with the World Council of Churches (WCC) and The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) in Switzerland.

Following Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, ACT member, the Cuban Council of Churches (CIC), activated the Emergency and Humanitarian Aid Committee to respond to the impact of the storms. CIC prepared a preliminary appeal LACU81, which raised initial funds to respond to the immediate crisis with food relief, hygiene kits and household goods. The final appeal is due to be launched immediately to assist with rehabilitation of houses , agricultural production and psychosocial assistance.

CIC plans to assess the Paloma-affected zones in the next few days to determine what support is needed in another request for funding. The field visit will also help to establish contacts with the local government, which is in charge of setting up criteria for the recovery phase.

Any funding indication or pledge should be communicated to Jessie Kgoroeadira, ACT Finance Officer (

Thank you for your attention.

For further information please contact:

ACT Director, John Nduna (phone +41 22 791 6033 or mobile phone + 41 79 203 6055) or

ACT Program Officer, Michael Zschiegner, (phone +41 22 791 6420 or mobile phone +41 79 608 8133)

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