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.
Continued from ” A Tornado In Havana”
Rolando saw us walking in the street and motioned to us. “Come into my home and see the damage”
He led us through his home where 12 people were living the night the tornado struck. Luckily, no one was injured here.
Most of the rooms were missing roofs.
Some of the rooms were missing walls that had been blown apart.
Things that were saved are now covered with plastic sheeting to protect them from afternoon showers.
Family members. Some still in shock.
Still managing to smile.
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.
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.
Next Visit – October 2015
I came alone.
I brought as many of the necessities as I could, but suitcases fill rapidly. At least this family knew that my friends and I cared.
On this visit I surveyed the roof and discovered that the concrete slab needed large areas to be chipped out and re-poured. I made a mistake by hiring the son of another Cuban friend and he started after I returned to the U.S. He meant well, but I quickly realized that he was in over his head. Trying to do this long distance was not going to work. I had Tayluma take over the hiring and paying of the new workers. The money was gone and the work had to be redone, but at least now, there were quality men on the job and Tayluma was making her own decisions.
With the re-work and shortage of materials in general, the roof job took over six months. Most of the materials had to be purchased on the black market. Whenever sacks of concrete became available it was a bidding frenzy to see who would get to buy them. The same was true for sand, aggregate, and the delivery service. But persistence paid off.
At least it was now dry inside the house.
Many thanks to my friends Kate, Louise, Pam, Matt, Susan, and Robert for providing encouragement, support, and money to help this poor family.
Next – We build a bathroom.