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Cuba evacuates more than 100,000 as Tropical Storm Elsa skirts southern provinces

Jacqueline Charles, Adriana Brasileiro, and Syra Ortiz-Blanes, The Miami Herald on

Published in Weather News

“Members of the public are being reminded to stay indoors,” the disaster office said.

Elsa was approaching Cuba Sunday afternoon, with reports of moderate rain and sustained winds of 40 mph in southern areas like Cabo Cruz, a cape on the western end of the Granma province.

Cuba ordered the evacuation of thousands of people in southern and central areas to protect against heightened risk of flash flooding and landslides.

Families that live in Granma’s low-lying areas in communities such as Madresita, Las Mangas and Guasimilla were moved to 37,000 homes designated as shelters, according to a report in state media news service Cubadebate.

In the central city of Holguin, around 78,000 people were transported from high-risk areas to shelters or to the homes of family members in areas considered safer, according to the report. Earlier Sunday, more than 35,000 people evacuated from coastal areas in the easternmost province of Guantanamo to the homes of family members located on higher ground, the report said.

Authorities were concerned about large gatherings at shelters as Cuba is struggling to contain a spike in COVID-19 infections. The island is facing its deadliest week since the start of the pandemic, breaching the threshold of 3,000 deaths per day last Wednesday and registering 20 deaths in a single day on Thursday, also a record high in the island of 11 million. On Saturday Cuba reported 3,475 confirmed cases and 15 deaths, according to the Public Health Ministry.

Cuba’s eastern regions registered heavy rainfall on Sunday morning and early afternoon, according to the meteorological institute Insmet. In Santiago de Cuba province, home to the island’s second most populous city, 11 reservoirs that are used to supply the region with drinking water were filling up and some reached around 80% of capacity at midday Sunday, the Hydraulic Resources Institute said.

 

As Elsa moved away from Hispaniola, authorities in the Dominican Republic had 15 provinces, mostly concentrated towards the south, on a green alert because of concerns over possible flooding in rivers and other bodies of water. There is a new high-pressure system that will “dominate the meteorological conditions”, said the Dominican Republic’s Emergency Operations Center.

In a late Sunday morning report. Dominican authorities said that 51 homes had been partially affected, and one home had been destroyed as a result of Elsa.

Emergency management officials also advised small and medium-sized vessels to stick to the coasts because of “abnormal” ocean.

In Haiti, initial reports suggest that the storm appeared to have had less impact than anticipated and did not cause the kind of damage the storm left behind in the eastern Caribbean, where it downed trees, took down power lines and caused roof damage to more than 550 houses in Barbados.

Haiti’s agriculture did take “a serious blow” because of the wind gusts, said Jerry Chandler, the head of the Office of Civil Protection, the emergency response agency.

“There were strong winds overnight,” he said. “So far no serious damage reported.”

(c)2021 Miami Herald Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
 

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