Response to Hurricane Irma: Cuba Situation Report No. 2. Office of the Resident Coordinator (08/09/2017)

Report
from UN Country Team in Cuba
Published on 08 Sep 2017

Highlights

  • Hurricane Irma has hit the northern and central Cuban territories heavily since early this morning, causing tidal waves, coastal and river flooding, and fallen trees.

  • 7.5 million people (66.9% of the population) are under the Hurricane Alarm Phase. The three phases of the Early Warning System cover the entire national territory, except for the special municipality of Isla de la Juventud.

  • Over three million people are included in the Cuban Civil Defense protection plans to safeguard human life.

  • Hurricane Irma is a potential threat to Havana, the capital, with a population of more than 2.1 million.

7,5 million
people are under the Hurricane Alarm Phase

67 medical and surgical brigades
deployed in the potentially most affected zone

3 million
people are included in the Cuban Civil Defense protection plans

+ 40.000 Tons
of food protected in threatened areas

Situation overview

The impacts of powerful Hurricane Irma were suffered in the eastern part of Cuba since early this morning with tidal waves, coastal and river flooding, and fallen trees.

Over three million people are included in Cuban Civil Defense protection plans, which include the evacuation of vulnerable groups living in coastal settlements, isolated rural communities or unsafe housing to protection centers or the homes of neighbors or family.

In Guantánamo and Holguín Provinces, affected by Hurricane Matthew less than a year ago, heavy rains, sustained winds of 60 kilometers per hour, wind gusts of up to 90 kilometers per hour and waves of five to eight meters high were reported. Floods cover the entire northeast coast, from Maisí to Gibara where the community of Caletones is currently isolated.

The city of Baracoa was affected by a strong storm surge, damaging economic and housing infrastructure. The city is without electricity and severe damage is reported in the coastal community of Yumurí.

The hurricane advanced slowly along the northern coast of the island to Las Tunas Province, where there is already damage from strong winds. As it continues on parallel and close to the island’s coast, Hurricane Irma will impact Cuba all day today, Saturday and Sunday.

The greatest threat remains at the point where hurricane is expected to shift to the north. As that point approaches the western part of the island, the potential threat to the Cuban capital, with a population of 2.13 million, increases.

Hurricane Irma could persist for about 24 hours, pummeling territories near the turning point until it moves towards the Florida Peninsula. The direction after the turning point is also an important risk factor with a northwest orientation the most complex situation because its potential influence in Havana.

The Cuban Civil Defense has asked the population to maintain a high risk perception of Hurricane Irma. The call reminded the population of the need to take the required measures and to act quickly to reduce the risks associated with the three threats Hurricane Irma could bring: rain, wind and coastal flooding.

In all the territories of the country threatened by the impact of the hurricane, necessary measures are being taken to ensure the protection of human life and economic resources.