Friday, August 05, 2005


Dennis´s Toll: Sixteen dead and 1.4 billion dollars in damages

An economic insight into hurricane Dennis´s damages to Cuba is barely one indicator of the meteor´s impact. Its path of destruction exposed sensitive areas of the island´s economy as power generation and electric lines, together with the lack of independent energy sources for water and gas distribution networks.
A preliminary assessment of losses reaches 1.4 billion dollars, only 10 months after the extensive damages inflicted by hurricane Charlie in 2004.
Around 1.5 million people were evacuated from their living areas, the highest figure ever. From these, 245 thousand were given shelter and the rest went to houses of friends and family.
In spite of the extensive preventive measures, the toll of 16 fatal victims shows that resources for the people´s own protection are missing, such as building materials to secure roofs, storm lanterns, kerosene to light them, ropes and candles.
The official report says that 13 victims lived in the province of Granma, 2 in Santiago de Cuba and one in Sancti Spiritus, dying mostly due to landslides and flooded rivers. These would have practically been doubled if army amphibious vehicles had not saved dozens of dwellers in rural Havana areas, many of which had been evacuated and returned to their homes only to be surprised by a sudden surge of water from overflowed dams.
A total of 120 thousand homes were severely damaged, of these 15 thousand total collapses, 25 thousand suffered partial collapse, 24 thousand lost their roofs and another 60 thousand lost part of their covers. Hurricane Dennis came only ten months after the devastation left by Charlie and when replacement of houses destroyed by that storm was still incomplete.
Sugar cane, banana, rice and other plantations were ravaged. Chicken farms were practically blown away, killing 73,000 birds.
In spite of harsh difficulties, people started immediately to repair damages. Main power lines are connected again and hope for the next hurricanes in a season that lasts until November, miss Cuba in their destructive path.
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