Hurricane Irma in Havana, Cuba - the day after

I was in Havana, Cuba when Hurricane Irma hit. Actually, I was in Camagüey on Thursday morning, 08 Sep trying to get a ride northwest to Havana before the hurricane hit. I was fortunate enough to be able to hire a car to make the 6 hour drive that day, and while on the drive heard about the effects of Irma in Camagüey as it hit there. Power and water were out pretty quickly and a lot was knocked over. Weirdly, the drive north ahead of the storm was sunny and beautiful. 

Getting to Havana was a relief because it meant I was that much closer to the airport and being able to leave when my flight was scheduled the following Wednesday. If I had still been in Camagüey, it would have taken much longer to get up to Havana with the storm damage and disruptions to travel and services.

The hurricane hit Havana Friday night, 09 Sep. It wasn't too bad mainly because the eye of the hurricane wasn't anywhere close to Havana; it was out at sea. However, during the night there was still a lot of damage that occurred because of the wind and rain. A couple of times during the night I heard loud shrieking and then crashes on the street below of things that had come off buildings and fallen down. Scary! The visually beautiful urban decay of Havana, is actually dangerous. Many people walk in the center of the road when they can to avoid falling bits of masonry.

There was a lot of flooding the next day, and a major amount of tree debris, and trees down. There was also a fair bit of building masonry on the ground. Power was out. Fortunately, Havana Vieja, where I was staying, was only without power for 24 hours. There was still water. 

For me, I was very lucky with my experience of Hurricane Irma. It was more like a winter storm in the American northeast where everyone comes out the next day to see what happened overnight and there are lots of neighbors talking to one another or to various people walking by. People, Cubans and tourists, were out recording the damage and effects with their cameras. Everyone was chatting and talking about their experiences. I was just in a small fortunate slice of the aftermath of Irma. After I got home, I saw pictures from other areas in Havana which were severely flooded and without power for days. I was lucky. In fact the only real disruption I had, was that the Havana airport was closed until the day I was scheduled to leave. That day they only began to accept flights into Cuba. I had to reschedule my flight out and was able to do it online (Yay! Online is not also easy in Cuba) and got the first flight of my carrier out the next morning. I was delayed 16 hours. That was nothing given a category 5 hurricane had just passed over the island.

 

Fallen building masonry in the street.

Fallen building masonry in the street.

Smashed out stained glass decorative window in Plaza Vieja

Smashed out stained glass decorative window in Plaza Vieja

Storm surge and massive waves at the Havana port entry and at the Castillo Morro.

Storm surge and massive waves at the Havana port entry and at the Castillo Morro.

Some small portion of the tree and leaf debris on the ground the morning after.

Some small portion of the tree and leaf debris on the ground the morning after.

Some of the flooding from Havana Bay into the streets next to it.

Some of the flooding from Havana Bay into the streets next to it.

People viewing and recording the flooding.

People viewing and recording the flooding.

More tree damage from the storm.

More tree damage from the storm.

One of the four statues atop the Gran Teatro de Havana knocked horizontal from the storm. The others were all still vertical. Later the day, a crew was out taking down the bent over statue. There was an enormous crowd of people out watching and taking pictures of the process.

One of the four statues atop the Gran Teatro de Havana knocked horizontal from the storm. The others were all still vertical. Later the day, a crew was out taking down the bent over statue. There was an enormous crowd of people out watching and taking pictures of the process.

More storm damage in another park. This one is Parque Central.

More storm damage in another park. This one is Parque Central.