Cuba’s westernmost province has been battered by Category 3 Hurricane Ian during the early hours of Tuesday, leaving destruction and uncertainty among the residents of small towns and the city of Pinar del Río.
“Desolation and destruction, we lived hours of terror; nothing is left here,” said the father of state journalist Lazaro Manuel Alonso who lives in Pinar del Río, according to Alonso’s post on Facebook.
The entire province has no electricity, Cuba’s state media outlet reported Tuesday morning.
Ian made landfall around 3:25 a.m. in the town of La Coloma, on the province’s southern coast, after its center passed near the Isle of Youth, Cuban state media reported. At 5 a.m. Ian’s center was just five miles south of the city of Pinar del Río, with sustained winds of 125 mph, the National Hurricane Center said. At 8 a.m. it had just moved a few miles north of the city, according to the latest advisory.
The National Hurricane Center also warned of “life-threatening storm surge” in western Cuba.
The hurricane was expected to emerge over the Gulf of Mexico later Tuesday.
On Monday, several prominent Cubans and Cuban Americans signed a petition asking the heads of Meliá Hotels International, Iberostar, Kempinski, NH Hotel Group and other foreign hotel chains operating in Cuba to “make room for Cuban families, most of them with children, who will be left destitute and homeless as a result of Ian.”
Cuban activist Rosa María Payá, musician Paquito de Rivera, Modesto Maidique, former president of Florida International University, and the Reverend Jose Conrado of the Parish of Trinidad in Cuba, led the appeal.
The powerful storm comes at a difficult time for Cuba, engulfed in the worst economic crisis since the 1990s. Food and medicine shortages and electricity blackouts mark daily life, a situation made worst by a dengue epidemic.
____©2022 Miami Herald. Visit at miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.