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Granma, Cuba coast overcomes damage from Dennis
The coastal zone of the eastern Cuban province of Granma is a beehive of construction projects. It has been that way for the past two years, when hurricane Dennis struck with powerful force uprooting trees, leveling homes and disturbing the usual tranquility of the area.

From the very beginning, the torrent of activity took the form of trucks unloading building materials including cement, sand, bricks and light roofing, deposited at a large number of sites hit by Dennis a powerful Category 4 hurricane on July 7, 2005.


Cabo Cruz always had a place in the history of the Cuban nation, attained perhaps when Christopher Columbus entered that point of southeastern geography, now in the province of Granma, during his second trip to Cuba.

Defying the march of time are the old mansion that served to host the Spanish colonial garrison and the coastal light house (now a steel tower standing at 31.18 meters high and blinking its beacon up to 19 miles away), its marine terraces, considered by scientists to be the best preserved in the world, and the no less than 27 different species of coral that exist along that coastline.

However, Cabo Cruz, now part of the Niquero municipality, was only attributed with its noteworthy status after the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959.


Juan Luis and Dalgis, as many other residents, assure that the town has never seen better times then at the beginning of efforts to repair the damage caused by hurricane Dennis.

The recovery program wasn't limited to building new and comfortable homes, much better than the ones existing there before the storm, as it also put into practice several previously studied projects.

The people of Cabo Cruz have had their community facilities recovered, as well as the recently built housing, a restaurant with excellent seafood dishes, a children's amusement park, a youth computer club and the video lounge. Practically all the families are benefited with cellular phone service and satellite TV dishes, privileges typical of the first world in a small and remote fishing town.


Only in Niquero and Pilon, the worst affected municipalities, Dennis devastated 97 percent of the housing. The hurricane winds showed no mercy with the old wooden walls, but also destroyed the brick ones as well.

But just as in Cabo Cruz, in other places impacted by the hurricane, many people feel that today they are doing better than before the storm because of the huge effort made by the Revolution, even amid the economic limitations the country still faces.

In the "Brigadas Cañeras" Popular Council (Electoral District) seven community TV lounges are now in service. Photo: Mariana Rodriguez

For Julia Batista and her son Orlando Garcia, who live in Brigadas Cañeras, a neighborhood that was almost totally washed away by the 2005 storm, "the improvements residents have seen and the changes are extraordinary."

"Before "Orlando adds" we only had a public telephone, just one, and the priority was for work related and urgent personal calls. Now almost all of us have telephone service, people with disabilities receive special care and in the community center there is a recreational program that is the same as well as in local TV lounge.

In Niquero and Pilon the Provincial Housing Department reports that more than 11,000 homes received new roofing and 2,000 were built from scratch using different construction technologies. Other state facilities were also rebuilt.

As a relevant new element in the reconstruction project, several large homes, built using heavy walls and reinforced concrete roofing were built to be used as shelters in case of another hurricane. Therefore, people wont need to be evacuated to far off places.

Support in these communities to the families affected by the hurricane, included the replacement of TV sets destroyed by the storm, the installation of thousands of telephones, and the delivery of other sound equipment for the communities, games and musical instruments.

By the end of 2007, it is expected that several hundred more new homes will be finished and work in other already started projects will be stepped up.

The advance of the recovery program depends upon the nation's availability of resources and the efficiency with which the ones assigned are used.

Julio Naranjo Viltres, president of the Belic Popular Council of Niquero municipality, said there are people that become impatient while waiting for their new home to be built, but the provincial government officials affirm that everything damaged will be repaired as the Revolution converts hope into tangible improvements for the affected population.


Source: Sara Sariol Sosa


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