Hurricane Michael largely spares Cuba’s western provinces

Hurricane Michael, which passed through Cuba’s western provinces of Pinar del Río and Artemisia on 10 October, caused flooding, electrical outages and some damage to agriculture but missed the region’s urban centres.

Cuban reports said that no casualties or injuries were reported, with only limited numbers of people having to be evacuated in Pinar del Río. During a pre-planned post hurricane visit to the province and affected areas President Díaz-Canel principally heard, according to local media, reports concerns about localised flooding and drainage problems.

According to the First Secretary of the Communist Party in Pinar del Río, as reported by the newspaper El Guerrillero, the losses caused by the hurricane have still to be quantified. He noted however that there had been limited damage to tobacco plantations, vegetable production and to some fishing facilities.

Subsequent national media reports indicated that the hurricane may have seriously affected the region’s tobacco crop. Quoted by the Cuban media, the President of the Tabacuba business group, Justo Luis Fuentes, said that after visiting several municipalities in Pinar del Río, the province that is Cuba’s largest tobacco producer, he was confident that local tobacco growers would be able to compensate for the damage, especially to nurseries that will provide the seeds for the new season’s plantings.

“We have the necessary resources to repair the damaged crops and to work with organization and efficiency”, he said.

According to preliminary reports, about 60,000 nurseries, some already planted areas and 12 tobacco facilities were lost in the region of Vuelta Abajo.

The centre of the category 1 hurricane passed very close to Cape San Antonio, the westernmost tip of the island, with winds of up to 90 miles per hour before picking up speed and heading for Northern Florida.

Cuban reports said that although Havana was far from the centre of the storm it was affected by associated heavy rains which continued across parts of the country in the following days.

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