Photo: Tropical Storm Isaac in Cuba
Tropical Storm Isaac caused the evacuations of more than 20,000 people in Cuba, as well as minor flooding in coastal areas, overflowing rivers, power outages and damage to homes while it moved over the waters north of the island en route to Florida, state media reported Sunday.
In the eastern province of Holguin, which Isaac deluged on Saturday afternoon, 20,312 people left their homes to take shelter with relatives and 382 people had been evacuated and were being housed in official shelters.
This is the largest number of displaced people in Cuba due to the gusting winds and torrential rains associated with the storm.
The eastern provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Las Tunas, Holguin and Camaguey, which comprise almost half the country’s territory, were on storm alert when Isaac arrived.
Isaac made landfall in Cuba on Saturday at the southern town of Imias, in Guantanamo province, some 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Punta de Maisi, in the far eastern part of the island.
In Baracoa, a coastal town in Guantanamo prone to flooding, more than 2,000 people had to abandon their homes, a situation that also occurred to a greater or lesser extent in Granma, Camaguey and Ciego de Avila.
Many of the evacuees were domestic tourists who had to break off their summer vacations early to return to their homes from coastal resort areas.
In addition to the forced population flows, in Baracoa 23 houses collapsed, and four of them were total losses, and banana and fruit crops were damaged. There was also an eight-hour power outage there.
Other damage, mainly downed power lines and the like, occurred in the towns of Gibara, Sagua de Tanamo and Rafael Freyre, all of which are in Holguin’s coastal area.
During the morning, the heavy rains continued to fall in the east and the latest bulletin from the Cuban weather service said that that would be the case across most of the country all day Sunday.
So far, no fatalities from Isaac, which is moving toward the northwest, have been reported in Cuba.
On Sunday afternoon, heavy rains will continue to fall nationwide, although the downpours will gradually diminish, Cuban weather service Forecast Center chief Jose Rubiera said.
The threat remains of “light to moderate” coastal flooding in the south central and northwest coastal - where Havana is located - parts of the country, Rubiera said.