Response to Hurricane Irma: Cuba Situation Report No. 3. Office of the Resident Coordinator (09/09/2017)

Report
from UN Country Team in Cuba
Published on 09 Sep 2017

This report is produced by the Office of the Resident Coordinator. It covers the period from 14:00 hrs. on September 08 th to 12:00 hrs. on September 09 th .The next report will be issued on or around 11/09.

Highlights

  • Hurricane Irma has been impacting Cuba for more than 24 hours, with sustained winds of 250 kilometers per hour and even stronger gusts.

  • Sea surge and coastal flooding will continue affecting the country today and tomorrow due to the slow movement of the hurricane, together with wind intensity and heavy rains.

  • Although its current position is in the north of central Cuba, the diameter of its area of impact is so wide (800 kilometers) that strong winds and rains cover a large part of the national territory.

  • 10.5 million people (almost 94% of the Cuban population) are under hurricane alarm phase.
    The three phases of the Early Alert System cover the whole national territory.

  • Coastal flooding began in low-lying areas of Havana, the country's capital with more than 2.1 million people. Until tomorrow, waves up to nine meters high and sea surges in the whole coastline are expected.

10,5 million
people are under the Hurricane Alarm Phase

+ 43 hospitals and polyclinics
sheltered and offering essential health services

+15 municipalities
from Camaguey to Villa Clara with agricultural damages

Situation overview

The sustained winds of 250 kilometers per hour and even stronger gusts of Hurricane Irma, currently a Category 4 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, continue to punish Cuba, already for more than 24 hours.

The slow movement of the hurricane, at the moment 19 kilometers per hour, is adding to the devastating intensity of its winds, which will prolong the impact of the hurricane on the island today and tomorrow.

The eye of Hurricane Irma made landfall in Cuba at 21.00 on Friday by Cayo Romano, north of the municipality of Esmeralda in the Camagüey Province. However, since the early hours of Friday, it has been impacting half of the country on its journey along the northern coast.

Although its current position is in the north of the central zone of the country, just north of Ciego de Ávila and Villa Clara keys, the diameter of its area of impact is so wide (800 kilometers) that strong winds and rains cover a large part of the national territory. In the eastern part of the country, the first to receive Hurricane Irma's impact 24 hours ago, there are still tropical storm force winds and rains.

Storms surges and coastal flooding have been reported in both coasts in the eastern and central provinces of the country.

In the morning, the coastal municipalities of Villa Clara and Sancti Spíritus, the closest to the center of the hurricane, suffered 90 kilometers per hour winds and gusts up to 150 kilometers per hour, accompanied by heavy rains.

Most of the coastal municipalities in these provinces are without electricity.

In Sancti Spíritus, more than 100,000 people are reported evacuated with an additional 152,000 in Matanzas.

Flooding has also begun in the coastal areas of the western provinces of Matanzas, Mayabeque and La Habana, where over six-meter-high waves are expected today in the afternoon and evening.

The Institute of Meteorology (INSMET) estimates that, in the lower areas of the western part of the country, the storm surge may extend from 200 to 500 meters inland.

Damage to electrical and transportation networks, commercial and residential roofs, and medical and tourism infrastructure as well as in agricultural areas has been reported.

More than one million people were evacuated in the first seven provinces under the Hurricane Alarm Phase. Seventy-seven percent of those evacuated sought protection with relatives and neighbors.

According to preliminary estimates, as of Friday evening, the municipalities of Gibara, Banes, Rafael Freyre, Holguín and Antilla in Holguin Province were the hardest hit by Hurricane Irma.

Provinces that have suffered less damage are ready to offer their support to the most-impacted territories.