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Two tornados, a year later

ReconocimientoIf we talk about challenging years, 2019 undoubtedly stands out for Havana. On January 2019, city residents lived a moment we will never forget. Just as the city was preparing to celebrate its 500th anniversary, we learned how the power of the wind could destroy everything in its path.

On the evening of Sunday, January 27, residents of the municipalities of Diez de Octubre, Regla, San Miguel del Padrón, Guanabacoa and part of Havana del Este experienced a phenomenon like no other, which left six dead and injured over 190, while 5,000 suffered damages and substantial material losses.

The natural disaster set another storm in action, unleashing a tornado of solidarity able to overcome all the damage caused.


The same path followed by the tornado was followed by brigades of communications, construction and electrical workers, municipal brigades and the people as a whole. All with the purpose of recovering, in the shortest time possible, a large part of the material losses.


-1,068 total losses

-1,000 partial damage

After the tornado, activated were all mechanisms for technical assessment of the damages and points for the sale of construction materials, including for those with less income, who received subsidies and access to credit.

Additionally, steps were taken to speed up the paperwork related to this process, for all those who had suffered damages and material losses.

From the first moment, Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, ministers, and the highest authorities of the Party and government in Havana, were mobilized, working side by side with the people and, in only five months, repaired 95% percent of the damage.

By the end of December 2019, 10,280 homes, had been built, surpassing original plans for 6,166.


-19 damaged facilities

-1 Maternity Hospital (Diez de Octubre)

-4 polyclinics

-2 homes for the elderly

-10 community doctors and nurses offices

-1 community pharmacy

-1 office for vector control in the municipality of Regla

A total of 196 patients were inside the Diez de Octubre maternity hospital the moment the tornado struck; 17 children were in the Neonatology Ward, with two in critical condition. Not one of these infants suffered any type of injury.

Destroyed were ninety percent of the hospital’s windows, roofing, and plumbing; and 80% of 74 water tanks.

Recovery tasks were assumed by the Blas Roca and the Julio Antonio Mella construction brigades and in less than a month, the hospital reopened, offering 10% of its services.

As solid evidence of the priority the state gives to healthcare and authorities’ determination to recover in the shortest time possible, all Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP) facilities damaged by the tornado were ready to offer their services to all the population by March 19.


-834,539 households were left without electricity services

-Within only five days, electrical service wasrestored in all affected municipalities, as follows: Diez de Octubre,98 %; Regla, 95 %; and Guanabacoa, 99 %.


-15,750 telephone lines

-27 cell phone radiobases

-23 wifi hotspots

-9 integral service centers

In the case of communications, the 93-meter tower of El Sapo Radio and Medium Wave Broadcasting Center that broadcasts the signal of Coco and Radio Rebelde stations, was downed by the powerful winds, but service was reestablished through other facilities.

By April 1, the tower was back in operation. The current tower is shorter, 63 meters, but meets broadcasting needs and was designed to resist strong winds.


-78 damaged facilities

The Alfredo Aguayo school, located in the Diez de Octubre of Santos Suárez, was one of the most damaged by the tornado, as almost all of its carpentry was affected.

During the repair works, the theater was restored, along with sports areas and computer labs. These works returned the school to its heritage condition and enrollment was increased to 800 students.

Brigades from the Mayabeque’s comprehensive construction enterprise also participated in the removal of debris from the roof of the Andrés Luján Polytechnic School, in the municipality of San Miguel del Padrón.

“All these issues were resolved in a short period of time thanks to the solidarity and the selfless support of everybody, from the top leadership to the grassroots,” said Luis Antonio Torres Iríbar, first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba in the capital, during the Havana provincial commemoration of the 66th anniversary of the assaults on the Moncada and Carlos Manuel de Céspedes garrisons.

(Sources: Habana 500 government website, Tribuna de La Habana and Granma newspapers)

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