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 Cubans Re Building in Aftermath of Gustav
The people from Cuba’s Isle of Youth, to the southeast of the larger island, are finding it hard to accept the unrecognizable island left in the wake of Hurricane Gustav as they begin the task of restoring their communities and work places.

Civilians and troops of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Ministry of the Interior are cleaning up the main access roads of the municipality that facilitate the transport of food and resources to evacuation centers and affected neighborhoods.

Construction workers move away rubble and fallen trees from the roads with special equipment, while neighbors restore their houses.

Ana Isa Delgado Jardines, first secretary of the party in the special municipality of the Isle of Youth, made a tour of the territory to assess the damage.

Despite the devastating passage of Gustav, which left major damage to the housing stock and the economy, there are no reports of human losses.

The hurricane (category four on the Saffir-Simpson scale) hit the Isle of Youth on Saturday with winds gusting to more than 200 km/h and causing the flooding of Las Casas River.

People living near the blanks of the river had to abandon their houses as the waters almost reached the ceilings; they found refuge on higher ground.

Specialists of the Weather Forecast Center of the Isle of Youth said that the wind force caused constant torrents of waves four meters of height along the southern coast and ripped away almost all light roofs from houses and other facilities.

Gustav also destroyed temporary wooden houses occupied by the victims of previous cyclones, and cut off communication in the territory after knocking down television and radio towers.

The hurricane dragged cars, blew water tanks, pull up trees, broke walls down, bent iron beams, changed the course of a heavily loaded boat, broke down two of the light towers at the Cristobal Labra baseball stadium and knocked down some 600 electricity posts.

Miguel Martínez, head of the Electricity Company, said that the most serious damages were reported in the electric network, with 600 post and transformers affected. He added that 52 electricians had come from the province of Camagüey to help in the restoration of the service to the population, schedule for completion in the next 30 days.

Agriculture was no less affected. There were severe losses of watering equipment, several crops that were completely destroyed, such as bananas, the tobacco drying houses vanished, the experimental farming center located in the Patria community was reduced to rubble, and there is much damage still to be quantified.

The impact on other economy branches and services is being evaluated in order to take actions to speed up recovery.
First decisions

When the Municipal Council of Defense learned about the proximity of powerful hurricane Gustav and the possibility for it to strike the Isla de la Juventud, they commanded to start evacuating people living in light roofed houses or in areas with propensity for flooding.

Approximately 10,698 people were evacuated before Gustav stroke. Of them, 8,059 sheltered in the houses of neighbours, 1,397 were taken to temporary shelters equipped with power generators, food and medical brigades, while 1,202 tourists were taken by plane to Havana and Varadero.

The population was advised to take extreme safety measures, store water, remain inside their houses until the recovery phase were decreed, and to follow the reports to be updated about the situation.

Sea and air transportation had ceased on Friday, but all the Isla de la Juventud residents that were at Havana at the time were given the opportunity to travel easily back to their homes.

(Juventud Rebelde)

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