Caribbean: Hurricane Dennis OCHA Situation Report No. 8

Ref: OCHA/GVA - 2005/0107

OCHA Situation Report No. 8
Hurricane Dennis - Cuba
14 July 2005

This report is based on information provided by the Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in Cuba.


1. Almost one week after hurricane Dennis struck, Cuba continues efforts to reestablish interrupted basic services, helping those affected by the storm, restore agricultural activities and guarantee an adequate supply of foodstuffs to all its citizens.

2. Great efforts are being made towards the reestablishment of electricity services, most severely affected the storm. Brigades continue repairing downed high voltage pylons in the countryside and electricity posts and transformers in the urban areas. Several cities and towns are still without electricity, but service has been restored, still with restrictions, in Havana and other major cities.

3. According to figures from Civil Defense, at noon 13 July there were 19,200 persons still evacuated, 17,700 of them lodged in 250 government shelters, where they receive food and medical attention. Most of the evacuated persons live in Eastern Cuba, the area most severely affected by the storm.



4. As previously reported, Cuban agriculture sustained enormous damages due to the ferocity of the winds, torrential rains and widespread flooding.

5. Tens of thousands of persons are now involved in planting short-cycle crops and in general in the reconditioning of agricultural installations, especially those of urban agriculture.

The latter sustained heavy damages and this fact will have a negative impact in the availability of foodstuffs. According to Civil Defense, the heaviest losses were registered in areas planted to banana, fruit (mangos and citrus), maize and pumpkin. In general, vegetable gardens were also affected.

Poultry farming was also affected due to the destruction of egg farms. In just one of them 73,000 laying hens were killed.


6. 120,000 homes were affected in different degrees. Cuban television showed the delivery of materials to homeowners whose roofs were blown away by the hurricane winds. This effort will solve in the short term a fraction of the total needs. The scope of the damages is so wide that it is virtually impossible that Cuba by itself will be able to repair them in the short term. It is estimated that the construction of new homes will take from several months to one year.

7. To the damages sustained by housing must be added the loss of domestic appliances, kitchen utensils, bedding and mattresses, clothes and shoes. In one way or another, some 480,000 persons have suffered material losses, the most serious being the loss of their homes.

Electricity and telephone services:

8. Electricity supplies were being restored, but many rural areas and towns still lack electricity due to the downing of poles and high voltage pylons. Power Union brigades are working non-stop to restore electricity. However, in some areas the availability of this service will be delayed from one to four weeks, depending on the seriousness of the damages.

9. Telephone services have been virtually restored in all the country, including long distance services.


10. Air and rail services were fully restored linking the Eastern and Western parts of Cuba. The coastal highway linking Granma and Santiago de Cuba provinces was reopened to traffic. At the same time, brigades are clearing rural roads of fallen trees and telephone and electricity poles interrupting traffic while other damages to the roadways are being repaired.

Health Service:

11. Portable electricity generators were installed in Health Units lacking this service. All major hospitals, specialized clinics and dispensaries are working normally. Special health care is being provided to persons lodged in Government shelters.

12. Health brigades are treating water systems and deposits with chlorine and debris left by the hurricane continues to be gathered, while special groups are applying chemicals to stagnant water pools to prevent the proliferation of mosquitoes as transmitting agents of several infectious diseases.

13. Fresh water systems are being incorporated to daily service as electricity supplies continue to expand. Those areas without such service receive the benefit of portable generators.

The natural environment:

14. The natural environment was heavily damaged by the hurricane DENNIS. The Sierra Maestra mountain range is included in the list, and its highest peak, the Turquino, lost between 50 and 60% of its trees. Several national parks also sustained heavy damages, including the famous Zapata Swamp (Matanzas province) and the Desembarco del Granma National Park, in the province of Granma.

Although the natural environment tends to regenerate itself, experts from the Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment said that the natural woods must be cleaned of debris and seedlings planted to help restore the natural balance.


Short term:

15. Local Governments report as immediate needs: mattresses, power generators, water purification tables (chlorine), canned food, jerry cans for drinking water and products for plague control.

Middle and long terms:

16. In the middle and longer terms as support to the reconstruction and rehabilitation effort the main need is roofing for thousands of destructed homes.

Actions by the UN System:

17. The UN System has continued the coordination and information links and exchanges with the Central Command of Civil Defense and the Ministry for Foreign Cooperation (MINVEC). Information clearing and exchange meetings are being held with the UN institutions represented in Cuba, NGOs and other cooperation institutions.


18. For further information, please contact the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in Cuba.;;

Data available as of 13 July 2005

Sectors and sub-sectors
Population in affected areas
Deaths directly attributed to the hurricane
Persons evacuated:
Total or partial losses
Downed posts
Damages to Educational institutions
Data not yet available
Health institutions affected
Data not yet compiled
Main crops affected
Bananas, maize, fruit
Ha. Of affected woods
20,000 in Desembarco del Granma
In excess of 1,400 million USD

19. Following the request of the UN Resident Coordinator UN-OCHA has released USD 60,000 for emergency response activities and purchase of relief items.

20. OCHA remains in close contact with the UN Resident Coordinator's Offices in Cuba and will continue reporting as further information is made available.

21. This situation report, together with further information on ongoing emergencies, is also available on the OCHA Internet Website at

MAP: Tropical storm Dennis warning map

Telephone: +41-22-917 12 34
Fax: +41-22-917 00 23

In case of emergency only: Tel. +41-22-917 20 10

Desk Officers:

Mr. Dusan Zupka, Ms.Charlotta Benedek
direct Tel. +41-22-917 16 45, 917 1205

Press contact:

(in GVA) Ms. Elizabeth Byrs, direct Tel. +41-22-917 26 53
(in N.Y.) Ms. Stephanie Bunker, direct Tel. +1-917-367 51 26


UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit