Continued from : A Tornado In Havana
Just down the street from Rolando, we met Jose who also wanted to show us the tornado damage to his home.
Jose had worked laboriously to remove all the rubble from his home, but we could see where walls were missing.
Many of the rooms were now open to the elements.
What else can happen to the good people of Havana? …. a tornado!
On the evening of 2 February, 2019 a tornado formed and touched down in Diez de Octobre. It then raced across Luyano, Regla, and Guanabacoa; all poor barrios of Havana. Three persons lost their lives and almost 300 were injured.
My small group of travelers and I were there one week after the tragic event.
While the government had done a reasonably good job of restoring power and clearing the streets, little was being done to help the people who had significant losses. In fact, it was the churches, not the government who took care of the people. Soup kitchens were set up to prepare donated food, donated clothes were passed out, and shelter was provided those who had lost everything.
Clearing the streets.
These men were salvaging parts from this smashed car.
The biggest problem was wooden roofs that offered no structural support. Once the roofs blew away, walls then collapsed either inward or outward.
Of course many concrete roofs collapsed too.
The help offered by the government was to make construction materials available at 1/2 cost. Loans were also offered at reduced rates. Only those families who had money saved could afford to start rebuilding. The average family could not afford to purchase blocks and cement and sand.
Next: We are invited into the home of Rolando, where 12 people were living the night the tornado struck.
Pushing a home-made cart with used roller bearings for wheels, this man covers a lot of ground collecting cardboard for recycling. I’m sure it doesn’t pay much, but in Cuba every little bit helps.
On this day, I found him almost 3 kilometers from his home in Centro Habana. Keep in mind that many streets are not good and his cart does not roll well.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
Somewhere under this pile of ropes, strings and flattened boxes is the cart he pushes daily.
Regla Is one of the many neighborhoods, or barrios, of Havana.
It’s across the bay from where the cruise ships dock. The easiest way to get there is on the ferry that runs back and forth all day long. For five pesos you can cross the bay in minutes.
The port of Regla. This building is in no better condition than any other building in Havana.
People walk the streets and try to stay cool.
Cheap rum and free conversation.
People shop for fruits and vegetables.
One of the attractions is Colina Lenin with its bronze likeness of the dictator embedded in the stone wall atop the hill. A series of steps lead to the top. An August noon-time hike will test one’s stamina. ( there is also a road)
Even the monument to communism is crumbling.
See a previous post on the hill of Lenin:
Cira lived in a rough part of Havana, Barrio Cerro. I say lived because I have learned that she and her 9 year-old son escaped the island. She sold the two room apartment and everything in it and paid for passage to a country in South America. She was upset with her circumstances ….. no job, no money, no hope for her son’s future.
It takes a lot of courage to leave one’s life behind and attempt to start over in a different land. I wish her well.
Someone else will live here now. Probably happy to have a solid roof overhead.
Basically, the apartment is two rooms and a bath with no running water.
Thanks to generous support from my small group of friends, Kate, Louise, Pam, Matt, Susan, and Robert we were able to continue to support this wonderful family.
Over the past three years other necessities were purchased for this family.
We purchased three new beds and mattresses.
A new semi-automatic washing machine (no more hand-wringing the wet clothes) and paint for the walls. We have also purchased and installed new windows and doors.
The youngest girl needed to have her adenoids removed. This entailed a costly trip to the hospital which was 60 km away and a stay of two days. The expense of such a trip for the average person is beyond their means. We were able to help.
Tayluma has a talent for manicure. It helps her to earn a little money. Whenever I visit, I bring supplies for her.
Rebuilding the kitchen.
Because we are able to transfer money to Tayluma, she now did all the buying of materials and the hiring of the workers. This greatly improved her confidence and self-esteem too.
There was no way to clean this area to make it sanitary. We worried about the health of the mother and children.
The wiring was a mess.
A new counter was constructed and tiled.
We bought her new cookware, hot plates, and replaced the refrigerator.
The house was completely rewired.
The children are growing and much happier too.
Many thanks to my friends Kate, Louise, Pam, Matt, Susan, and Robert for providing encouragement, support, and money to help this poor family.
Next – Other improvements