Steph Deschamps / September 30, 2022
Recharge his cell phone, find a place in the neighbor’s freezer: until the electricity is fully restored, Cubans tried Thursday to deal with the most urgent, two days after the passage of Hurricane Ian which plunged the country into darkness.
“I try to find a solution, I call to know who has electricity and could keep me some of the chicken that I have here (in the freezer) and which is about to expire,” tells AFP Maria Fernandez, a 68-year-old retiree in her house in the district of Santos Suarez, Havana.
The powerful hurricane of category 3 which struck the country Tuesday made three deaths and caused important damages in the west of the country. It also caused a blackout in the whole island of 11.2 million inhabitants.
Maria Fernandez uses her landline phone because the “cell phone is discharged and the signal is intermittent,” she said.
Lazaro Herrera, an official of the public electricity company, Union Electrica (UNE), said on state television that part of the capital already had power, but the “rest is still waiting for the certification of the lines, as well as the provinces of Artemisa and Pinar del Rio (west)”, the hardest hit by the hurricane.
A good part of the inhabitants of the eastern provinces of Holguin, Santiago de Cuba, Las Tunas and Camagüey, which were not affected, have also recovered electricity.
The Cuban electrical network is fed by eight large power plants, electrical generators and some solar and wind units.
Dozens of people took to the streets of Havana’s Cerro neighborhood Thursday night to protest the lack of lighting, AFP found.
“We’ve had enough,” said Laura Mujica, a 20-year-old student. “They said this problem would be solved on Monday,” she stressed, pointing to an electric pole that has been down since Tuesday.
In a context of recurrent food shortages, Cubans are used to storing meat and perishable food in their freezers. A prolonged power outage is then a catastrophe.
I came to a friend’s house to put food in her freezer,” said a relieved Adrian Noriega, a 30-year-old lawyer who lives in the La Vibora neighborhood.
After the devastating passage of Ian, Mexico, Venezuela and Bolivia expressed their solidarity with Cuba. The U.S. Embassy in Havana recalled that “U.S. law authorizes U.S. agencies and entities to provide disaster relief in Cuba”.
On the outskirts of the capital, employees of hospitals and other buildings with electric generators are charging up to 200 Cuban pesos ($1) to recharge their phones.
Public transport in the capital was expected to resume on Thursday, according to the Ministry of Transport, while “the country’s airports are operational again” for international flights.
The chimneys of the Turkish generator-boat, rented by the electricity company and anchored in the bay of Havana, smoke again, noted AFP.