First-Hand Accounts of Hurricane Sandy’s Damage in Santiago de Cuba

Hurricane Sandy downed power lines and trees in Santiago de Cuba

Would you consider donating money to help personal friends of mine in Santiago de Cuba who were severely affected by Hurricane Sandy? A friend of the family will visit Santiago de Cuba at the end of November and will deliver the money to them personally. I will send 5% of my monthly income to help. Keeping in mind that the average monthly salary for a professional (such as a doctor or an accountant) in Cuba is just $20, any amount you send will be a great help. If you can help, please send me a private email letting me know how much you can contribute, and you can send me the money at P.O. Box 3210, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3210. Any amount of money you send will be compounded one hundred fold by their generosity, kindness, and hard work.This received one email from Laura, who I wrote about her on my blog once, with a verbatim translation of her experience of Pope John Paul II’s trip to Cuba.

Sent on November 7th:

“Hi Margarita…. When the storm passed we went out on the few streets where we could still walk and the panorama was very sad and depressing. We were without power for 10 days (all of the kids’ food was spoilt).  Half of the city is still without power and communications. The water that comes out of the tubes is pure dirt; the water is getting a little better but we have to buy bottled water for my nephews because they are still so young and could get really sick from contaminated water. A lot of people are having digestive problems and we have to take lots of preventive measures. My entire office was destroyed—nothing was left standing. Maria lost the ceiling to her bedroom but she’s okay. Your prayers are sufficient; that gives us hope and we know we will get out of this somehow. Love, Laura.”

In this You Tube Video, you can see people describing the damage.

YouTube Preview Image

I got another email from Maria on November 10th.

“Dear Margarita, I’m sorry I didn’t write sooner but with the disasters Julia lost her job because the hurricane ruined everything here. The sea in her area rose to 32 meters (104 feet) and the hotel where she worked disappeared. They will pay her one month of salary and after that she has to find new work or she won’t have anything. I used to write you email from her work; obviously, I can’t do that anymore but I’ll find some way to write to you. The other person who used to let me write email to you is without power and telephone.

Thanks be to God we are all still alive after this holocaust that cost some people their lives. Others lost part or all of our homes. Now we are just waiting for the government to start selling materials to buy them at the elevated prices at which the state sells them even though the state says they won’t abandon those affected by the storm. We keep hearing about supplies arriving but haven’t seen any yet.

In Julia’s house, part of the living room ceiling collapsed and the entire roof of the 2nd floor collapsed. In my house, the living room and one bedroom room were destroyed. My mother lost the roof to her whole house. Leo’s house was the worst because the walls collapsed so the fire rescue squad had to get them out of the house because they were trapped inside. They have taken refuge with some neighbors for now.

We are seeing more cases of cholera, dengue and respiratory infections. The water is brown and a lot of food has just disappeared and when it does appear the prices are high. The state is selling us some food like rice, grains, sugar, flour, and corn at higher prices than normal because the food supply got wet from all the rain from the hurricane and a lot of food was destroyed.

This has been the worst hurricane we have ever seen in Cuba and we have never had such terrible necessity as we do now. It is much worse than the last time you came to visit in terms of hunger, misery and necessity. Most of the church cupolas have been affected; the city is in runs; you can see trees uprooted; electrical wires and telephone cables are all over the streets.

I send you a big hug and, God willing, I hope to see you soon. May God protect you and all your family. Thank you for your concern and support for us. Maria.”

Debris scattered around the central plaza in Santiago de Cuba in front of the Cathedral

I’m sure many of you are already very generous with your money; and I’m sure some of you have already donated to help victims of Hurricane Sandy in the US or the Caribbean. If you are able to give something, please know that it will go directly to help a group of 5 families who I have known from more than 10 years. If you are unable to give at this time, please know that they appreciate your prayers and compassion.

Thanks for considering this request.


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