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Hurricane Ivan: Tuesday Update
Tue, 14 Sep 2004 8:46am

Susan Hurlich

Hello all:

Here in Cuba, the important news this morning, the first day AFTER Hurricane Ivan, is that so far, there are no known deaths. Hopefully this will indeed be the case!

As of 7am this morning, the provinces of Habana, Ciudad de La Habana and Isla de la Juventud were returned to "normal" status.

Pinar del Río, however, is still in Alarm status as it's still under the "shadow" of Hurricane Ivan. Although Ivan is already some 135 km northwest of the western tip of Pinar, we mustn't forget that the distance covered by its hurricane force winds is 160 km from its eye, and by its tropical storm winds some 325 km from the eye. And it's still moving at its habitual sloggish pace - 15 kph. This means that Pinar will continue to receive Ivan's hurricane force winds for some 11 hours AFTER Ivan passes Cuban territory, and its tropical storm winds for 22 hours. At 6 this morning, winds in western Pinar were being recorded of between 107 to 135 km per hour. Intense rains are also continuing around the province; in some areas, over 100 mm of rain have fallen in only three hours. Plus there are still coastal inundations not only in Pinar but also in the two Habanas.

Today's televised images from the coastal community of La Coloma in Pinar show flood waters everywhere and asbestos roofs blown off. But the special custodial brigade that I mentioned yesterday is still there. In fact, all along Pinar's southern coast, all entries and exists into this area is being carefully monitored and the police have set up little stations along all the roads. For instance, when the provincial TV crew went to La Coloma this morning, they were immediately approached by the police and asked to show their identification. Perhaps this is one of the reasons that entire communities are generally so willing to be evacuated: they know that their homes and belongings will be taken care of by specialized brigades. This isn't to say, of course, that there isn't the occasional attempt to rob. After all, Cubans come in as many kinds of human beings as the rest of us. But the structure that Cuba has in place has, as its first pRíority, the protection and preservation of life, and after that, the protection of economic installations and material belongings. It's an instructive model for all.

Here in the city of Havana, we've had continual rains since yesterday morning. Not what I would call intense, but steady. Also winds with the occasional strong gust. This situation will also continue throughout the day. But even so, things are already returning to normal. Earlier this morning, for instance, the garbage truck passed, with its workers bundled up in their bright yellow slickers.

Meanwhile, we're already monitoring Tropical Depression #11. Let's hope it peters out. Just before Ivan reached the lesser Antilles, tropical depression #10 was playing off the Azores, but after about three days, it dissipated. Hopefully this will also be the case with #11 as well. At the moment, it has sustained winds of 50 kph - it doesn't become an "official" tropical storm until maximum sustained winds reach between 63-118 kph. It's still a good distance away, so there's lots of time for it to fritter away. I don't think anyone or any country can take another hurricane!

Warm embraces, Susan

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