Hurricane Ian is heading to Florida
Hurricane Ian ravaged Tuesday, September 27, the west of Cuba without causing casualties but leaving behind him countless scenes of desolation, before heading to Florida, where residents and authorities were on alert for a phenomenon “extremely dangerous.
“HuracanIan is moving away from the national territory, but its destructive effects persist,” tweeted the Cuban Civil Defense, in a call for caution, after the passage of the hurricane. Its center left the Cuban territory at 09:50 (13:50 GMT) around Puerto Esperanza, according to the Institute of Meteorology of Cuba (Insmet).
The U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) warned in its bulletin of 17:00 (21:00 GMT) that the hurricane, category 3, would approach the west coast of Florida as an “intense hurricane extremely dangerous. Ian, which made landfall in the early hours of the morning in the province of Pinar del Rio, west of Cuba, was Tuesday afternoon, September 27, 375 kilometers from Sarasota, Florida, and was advancing with sustained winds of 195 km / h at a speed of 17 km / h.
No victim is for the moment to be deplored, according to the Cuban authorities, but the violent winds and the intense rains persisted in the west of the island where the hurricane sowed the desolation in several localities, noted journalists of the AFP. On the road to San Juan y Martinez, 190 km from Havana, the province of Pinar del Rio, where most of the country’s tobacco plantations are located, was hit hard. Crops were flooded, trees uprooted and electrical wires littered the ground.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do this season,” lamented Yuslan Rodriguez, a 37-year-old tobacco farmer, whose plantation, like others, was destroyed. Wind gusts reached 208 km/h in San Juan y Martinez.
President Miguel Diaz-Canel visited on Tuesday 27 September the most affected area in Pinar del Rio. “The damage is significant,” he said on Twitter, assuring that help had been sent. Ian hit Cuba at 04:30 (08:30 GMT) in the town of La Coloma, a fishing village in the province of Pinar del Rio – 190 km from Havana – before crossing the island from south to north, leaving in its path collapsed houses, torn roofs and flooded crops.
Some 40,000 people were evacuated in this province and “the damage is considerable”, said the head of the local Communist Party, Yamilé Ramos. “It has been apocalyptic, a real disaster,” testified Hirochi Robaina on Facebook, owner of “Finca Robaina”, a prestigious tobacco plantation founded in 1845, about 30 kilometers from San Juan y Martinez.
On Monday evening, September 26, the provinces of Pinar del Rio and Artemisa, as well as the island of La Juventud, located 340 km south of Havana, had been placed on “maximum” alert by the Cuban Civil Defense. Before making landfall, Ian had strengthened into a “major hurricane” of category 3 on the Saffir-Simpson scale, graduated up to 5.
In the capital, where 2.1 million people live, two houses have partially collapsed, according to Alexis Acosta, the steward of the Old Havana neighborhood. The “center of Ian is expected to move over the southeastern Gulf of Mexico in a few hours, pass west of the Keys archipelago” south of Florida, “then approach the west coast of Florida … Wednesday, September 28 and Wednesday evening, September 28,” said the NHC.
A state of emergency has been declared in all of Florida and the authorities were multiplying preparations. Some of the models made now predict a landfall south of Tampa Bay (…) “In some areas, there will be catastrophic flooding and deadly storm surges,” warned Governor Ron DeSantis.
He asked residents to stock up on supplies and prepare for power outages, while mobilizing 7,000 National Guard members. U.S. President Joe Biden has approved federal emergency assistance for 24 of Florida’s 67 counties.
“My administration is on alert and in action to help the people of Florida,” he assured. Air assets such as helicopters are ready to respond, said Pentagon spokesman General Pat Ryder.
In Tampa, city hall employees were filling sandbags Tuesday and distributing them free of charge throughout the city. Authorities have ordered evacuations in the most vulnerable areas, located near the ocean.
NASA, the U.S. space agency, has abandoned the planned Tuesday launch of its new mega rocket to the moon, from the Kennedy Space Center in the southern U.S. state. Ian succeeds Hurricane Fiona, which devastated the Atlantic coast of Canada on Saturday, September 24, killing three people, after the Caribbean last week where seven people had died.