Isaac caused minimal damage in Cuba

News from Cuba | Wednesday, 29 August 2012

from the Miami Herald

As the death toll from Tropical Storm Isaac climbed to 24 in Haiti, work crews in Cuba were sweeping up the debris left behind by the storm, which knocked down four houses and forced nearly 50,000 people from their homes.

Interior Ministry Col. Luis Macareño, second in command of the National Civil Defense, declared in a television appearance late Monday that the weekend storm caused no deaths or significant material losses.

Modest flooding was reported Monday in Havana neighborhoods closest to its iconic Malecón seaside boulevard, lashed by powerful swells churned up by Isaac’s winds. Work crews carted off storm debris from the neighborhoods to keep street drains clear.

About 48,600 people left their homes for safer ground during the storm, mostly to the more sturdy homes of relatives or neighbors, Macareño added. Only 1,200 went into official shelters.

Damages to Cuba’s tourist facilities were minimal, added José Bisbé, commercial director of the tourism ministry. About 37,000 foreign tourists and nearly 30,000 Cubans were staying in the island’s hotels and camp grounds at the time.

Deputy Health Minister Luis Estruch warned during the program that Isaac’s rains could unleash a plague of the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which carries dengue fever. There have been unconfirmed reports that an outbreak of dengue already has reached epidemic proportions.

Isaac hit Baracoa, the oldest and most eastern Cuban city, on Saturday. It left land five hours later through the famed Guardalavaca beach in northeastern Holguín province. On Tuesday, officials reported that Isaac caused 24 deaths in Haiti and another five in the Dominican Republic.

Haiti’s Civil Protection Office said in a report that the bulk of the deaths happened in the southeastern and western departments of the country.

Some of the victims were electrocuted and others died after objects fell on them. Three people are missing.

In Cuba, the storm destroyed four homes in Baracoa and damaged another 19, according to official reports. It also knocked down power lines and damaged nearly 1,100 acres of plantain, cocoa, and coconut plants in the region.

The Sagua de Tánamo River in Holguín overflowed and flooded 72 homes near its banks, according to the National Information Agency (AIN). But the river quickly retreated and families were returning home.

The damages paled in comparison with 2008, when three hurricanes caused $10 billion in losses and damaged 500,000 homes.

Material from The Associated Press was included in this report.

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