Category 5 Hurricane Maria Strikes Dominica, PM Skerrit: Nation is Devastated

hurricane maria 1.jpgHurricane Maria has strengthened to a Category 5 storm | Photo: Reuters

Source:  TeleSUR
September 19 2017

“I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time, because it is devastating…indeed, mind-boggling”, PM Skerrit told teleSUR.

The Prime Minister of Dominica Roosevelt Skerrit told teleSUR that his nation has been devastated by Hurricane Maria.

RELATED:   Hurricane Maria: Dominica’s Social Media Users Share Dominica’s Terror

roosevelt skerrit 5.jpgSkerrit said initial reports are indicative of “widespread devastation. So far, we have lost all that money can buy and replace”.

But, the prime minister then said that his greatest fear was waking up to the “news of serious physical injury and possible deaths as a result of likely landslides triggered by persistent rains”.

He related that the true extent of the devastation will be revealed when the onslaught of the Category 5 Maria subsides. “Come tomorrow morning we will hit the road, as soon as the all clear is given, in search of the injured and those trapped in the rubble”.

PM rescued

Earlier, the PM had to be rescued when the hurricane bore down on the island. Skerrit posted to his Facebook account that the roof of his house had been blown off and his home was being flooded.

roosevelt skerrit twitter.png

“So far, the winds have swept away the roofs of almost every person I have spoken to, or otherwise made contact with. The roof of my own official residence was among the first to go, and this apparently triggered an avalanche of torn away roofs in the city and the countryside”.

I am eager now to solicit the support of friendly nations and organizations with helicopter services. For, I personally, am eager to get up and get around the country to see and determine what’s needed.

He warned that “It is too early to speak of the condition of the air and seaports”, but suspect that both would be inoperable for a few days. “That is why I am eager now to solicit the support of friendly nations and organizations with helicopter services. For, I personally, am eager to get up and get around the country to see and determine what’s needed.

We will need help of all kinds

“I am honestly not preoccupied with physical damage at this time because it is devastating… Indeed, mind-boggling. My focus, now, is in rescuing the trapped and securing medical assistance for the injured. We will need help, my friend, we will need help of all kinds”, he added.

He urged: “Please let the world know Dominica has been devastated. We do not know how many are dead if any. We shall know in the morning. The hurricane is still on. We were brutalized by the hurricane.”

Hurricane Maria made landfall on the island, packing winds of over 260 kilometers per hour.

First hit by a Category 5 storm

It is the first time Dominica has ever been hit by a Category 5. In 1979, Hurricane David struck the island as a Category 4 storm, the deadliest to date. 56 people died and three-quarters of the population were left homeless.

There has been no news of casualties so far – but a police official, Inspector Pellam Jno Baptiste told AP,  it was still too dangerous for officers to make a full assessment as the storm raged outside.

“Where we are, we can’t move,” he said in a brief phone interview.

A caller on the national DBS Radio Dominica said the Princess Margaret Hospital’s “roof is gone and the generator has failed so it is in total darkness… this is bad.”

Venezuela offers assistance

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza has offered immediate resistance to Dominica.

The U.S. based National Hurricane Center has warned “Maria is developing the dreaded pinhole eye.”

That’s a sign of an extremely strong hurricane likely to get even mightier, said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. Just like when a spinning ice skater brings in their arms and rotates faster, a smaller, tighter eye shows the same physics, he said.

Maria’s eye shrank to a narrow 16 kilometers across. “You just don’t see those in weaker hurricanes,” McNoldy said.

The hurricane was upgraded to a  major Category 5 storm as it closed in on the Leeward islands. Antigua and Barbuda, Guadeloupe, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico are all in its crosshairs.

Maria is following a path similar to Hurricane Irma, which left a trail of destruction just two weeks ago.

Dominican broadcaster Daryl Titre told teleSUR English, at 5:42 p.m., a little over two hours before Hurricane Maria was due to make landfall, that it had been raining heavily since 11:00 a.m.

“In my part of the country there is still electricity, but I have had reports that there is no electricity in other parts. As well as heavy wind, as well as fallen trees in certain areas,” he said.

But minutes after his interview with teleSUR English his power went out.

Titre said that Dominicans are not taking the hurricane warning lightly despite having been spared a direct hit from Irma, one week ago. He said people seemed to be taking the preparations seriously and he was confident that they are as prepared as they could be for the storm.

The U.S. based National Hurricane Center said, “On the forecast track, the center of Maria will move across the Leeward Islands late today and tonight and then over the extreme northeastern Caribbean Sea Tuesday and Tuesday night.”

Puerto Rico declares a state of emergency

Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Rosello has declared a state of emergency as the island prepares for a direct hit expected on Wednesday as it faces a hurricane warning. It would be the first time in 85 years that the country receives a direct hit if Maria stays on its current course.

RELATEDALBA Bank to Donate $2 Million to Barbuda for Reconstruction

Hurricane warnings are also in place for Guadeloupe, St. Kitts & Nevis, Montserrat, Martinique, British Virgin Islands, St. Lucia, and U.S. Virgin Islands, while a tropical storm watch is in effect for Barbados and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

A hurricane watch is in effect for Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Maarten/St. Martin, St. Barthelemy (St. Barts) and Anguilla.

Several of these islands suffered devastating damage from Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest and most sustained hurricanes in history at the start of the month.

Meanwhile, at 10 p.m., Hurricane Jose continued to moved along a northern path at 8 miles per hour, packing 75 mph winds 235 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

RELATED:  Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Browne Donates Thousands to Relief Effort

“Jose is expected to produce total rain accumulations of 3 to 5 inches over eastern Long Island, southeast Connecticut, southern Rhode Island, and southeast Massachusetts, including Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, through Wednesday,” the NHC forecast, adding that the hurricane is expected to dissipate in the next few days.

Tropical Storm Norma, which is still active, is located south-southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico is expected to gradually dissipate.

Last week, Hurricane Katia battered the Atlantic coast of Mexico and later blew itself out in the center of the country without causing major damage.

At the beginning of September, Tropical Storm Lidia left seven people dead on its stormy passage through the state of Baja California.

Mexico is one of the countries most vulnerable to hurricanes because of its thousands of miles of coastline on both the Atlantic and Pacific and its proximity to the hurricane belt.

South Africa: Nehawu Message to the People of Cuba After the Effect of Hurricane Irma

The National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] has learnt of the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma, described as “the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in Cuba’s history”.

There are reports of considerable damage to infrastructure, homes including regrettable loss of lives. Our thoughts are with the government of the Republic of Cuba, Cubans and families affected by the hurricane. We convey our deepest condolences to all Cuban people.

NEHAWU takes this opportunity to wish all Cuban authorities and the population in general well as they are focusing on recovery efforts to restore basic services to the population and repair the material damages. In the context of this disaster, we denounce the cruel US economic blockade against Cuba, which is a natural affront to the restoration of infrastructure, safety for the people and after all peace and social progress.

We have confidence in the unremitting rescue efforts coordinated by the government of the Republic of Cuba to prioritise the saving of lives. Our union, NEHAWU will participate in the International Emergency Campaign aimed at assisting Cuba with direct material aid. Once again, on behalf of its entire membership, the union remains confident to its relationship with sister unions and the working class as a whole in Cuba and also convinced that they will emerge victorious from effects of this hurricane.

Maduro, Morales Address World Solidarity Summit in Venezuela

Source:  TeleSUR
September 17 2017

Morales: Trump has Surrendered.  We have Won the Battle for the Sovereignty of Venezuela

evo y nicolas sept 2017.jpgThe Bolivian leader has been holding talks with the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. | Photo: Prensa Presidencial

More than 200 delegates  are taking part in the summit which aims to build a common agenda for the coordination of policies in defense of Venezuela’s sovereignty.

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales says his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump’s support for dialogue in Venezuela represents a defeat to the empire.

RELATED:  Global Leaders Celebrate World Solidarity Day With Venezuela

Speaking at the “We are all Venezuela,” summit in Caracas, Morales said “Since the US president has surrendered, he is supporting the political dialogue in Venezuela, we have won this battle. But as long as there is imperialism and capitalism in the world the struggle continues.”

The Bolivian leader has also been holding talks with Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro at the global solidarity meeting.

Bolivia is one of the countries taking part in the follow-up commission to help reinvigorate the dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition.

The Latin American peoples are anti-imperialist

Morales added that, “The Government of the United States of America threatened military intervention, attacked Venezuela with economic sanctions, and Latin America was revealed, even governments with presidents allied with US interests rejected the idea of ​​military intervention in the United States region, because the Latin American peoples are anti-imperialist.”

But he said the people “will continue to triumph.”

world solidarity day with venezuela 4.jpg

Earlier, the Bolivian president questioned Trump’s double standards on Venezuela in a posting on his Twitter account.

The 13 working groups at the summit have been discussing sovereignty and peace, the struggle against war and imperialism, racial supremacism, discourses of exclusion and hatred, migrants and the fight for universal citizenship, global financial counterrevolution and mother land rights.

More than 200 delegates from around the world are taking part in the three day event which aims to build a common agenda for the coordination of policies in defense of the sovereignty and fundamental rights of Venezuela and other countries in the region.

As part of his weekly “Sundays with Maduro” program, the president reviewed all the countries represented, reiterating that every continent was present to support peace in Venezuela.

Adan Chavez, ANC member and older brother of late President Hugo Chavez, urged the delegates to attend the upcoming debates and plenary sessions to draw up a final program and plan of action.

To reclaim the flag of our liberators

“If in reality, the imperialists went through with the threat of an invasion, we are sure that the people and countries of the world will defend Venezuela. That is putting solidarity in action,” he said.

The President of Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly Delcy Rodriguez said there is a “revolution that came from Commandante Chavez to reclaim the flag of our liberators.”

Rodriguez added that attempts have been made by international actors and the domestic right-wing opposition “to implant forms of aggression against the Venezuelan people that have been experienced in other countries like Libya, Syria and Iraq.”

Global Leaders Celebrate World Solidarity Day With Venezuela

world solidarity day with venezuela 3.jpgOver a thousand people filled the Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas.
| Photo: Foreign Ministry of Venezuela

Source:  TeleSUR
September 16 2017

The summit is focused on the defense of the Bolivarian Revolution and seeks to build international networks of support.

Venezuela has begun an international summit in Caracas with 197 delegates representing political and social organizations from around the world to discuss peace and international solidarity with the country.

RELATED: Venezuela Reports Oil Prices in Chinese Currency, Shunning the ‘Tyranny of the Dollar’

delcy rodriguez 8.jpgNational Constituent Assembly President Delcy Rodriguez said Venezuelans will defend their country from threats made by U.S. President Donald Trump to intervene in the country.

“Imperial hatred came to Venezuela with neofascist expressions,” Rodriguez said.

The event, which is called “We Are All Venezuela,” is being held in the Teresa Carreño Theater in Caracas from Saturday, Sept. 16 until Sept. 19.

Jorge Arreaza 2Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said the event will show the world that Venezuela will not allow foreign intervention and will defend the revolutionary process initiated by former President Hugo Chavez.

“Chavez is alive in all Latin American who believe in hope for all the people,” Arreaza said.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who called for the event on Aug. 20th, reiterated his call and invitation to the delegates on Friday night.

maduro aug 2017.jpg“I invite all the people, all the popular movements, the movements of opinion, the intellectuals, the social movements, and the political parties for this world day that will develop here in Caracas a global dialogue for peace, sovereignty, and Bolivarian democracy in Venezuela,” Maduro said.

We Are All Venezuela

“There is one slogan: We Are All Venezuela, and there will be a set of initiatives through social networks… there will be in various languages a worldwide campaign, steps taken with other countries, and a great dialogue because Venezuela has the right to defend itself and have defenders both here and in the whole world,” the President continued.

world solidarity day with venezuela 1.jpgDuring the coming days, the delegates will discuss and approve an international plan of action and solidarity for the support and continuation of the Bolivarian Revolution.

RELATED:  Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro Welcomes International Support for Talks with Opposition

Among those attending and those who have participated in the planning meetings for the solidarity event are the Landless Workers Movement of Brazil, the France Insumisa Movement, the Frente Amplio of Uruguay, the Bolivarian Circles of New York and the Patria Grande Movement of Argentina.

Bolivian President Evo Morales is also expected to attend.

“On Saturday night, we are traveling to Venezuela to accompany a summit of social movements to defend the Bolivarian Revolution in Venezuela,” Morales said earlier this week.

The summit kicked-off with the formation of five working groups to discuss a wide range of issues related to the defense of the revolution, including imperialism, racism, financial counter-revolution, environmental rights, anti-imperialist military defense and the new sanctions imposed by the United States.

 

ALBA Bank to Donate $2 Million to Barbuda for Reconstruction

Source:  TeleSUR
September17 2017

alba bank donates.jpgHomes in Codrington, Antigua and Barbuda were completely torn apart by
the storms powerful winds. | Photo: AFP

The Bank of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America has pledged to allocate US$2 million for the reconstruction of Barbuda.

RELATED: Venezuela Sends Aid to Hurricane Irma-Struck Antigua and Barbuda

jorge arreaza venezuela.jpgSpeaking during a televised broadcast, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, said the funds will be accompanied by a commission of Venezuelan technicians who will participate in the reconstruction of homes adapted to face future climatological phenomena.

The island, comprising the duo Caribbean island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, took a direct hit from Category 5 Hurricane Irma, destroying over 90 percent of building structures.

A joint venture

Arreaza stressed that the program will be a joint venture with the government of Antigua and Barbuda and Petrocaribe and ratified the willingness of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to assist the people of Barbuda to overcome the destruction.

“President Maduro was in contact with the Prime Minister of Barbuda Gaston Browne during this episode,” adding that Venezuela is prepared to do all it can in the name of solidarity with sister countries of the Caribbean.

nicolas maduro 19.jpg

Amid Antigua and Barbuda’s devastation, Venezuela sent over 10 tons of supplies to the Caribbean islands, including mattresses, medicine, boots, and cases of water, as well as a roster of rescue personnel.

The Bolivarian National Armed Forces also transported 20 firefighters and 34 civil defense personnel to the hurricane-struck islands.

Cuba: Recovery underway in resort areas hit by Irma

Source:  Granma
September 15 2017

by Alejandra García | internet@granma.cu

Granma International spoke with Alexis Trujillo Morejón, Cuba’s first deputy minister of Tourism, who addressed the recovery of resort areas and tourist

recovery underway after irma.jpgMany tourist facilities are already offering services after the passage of Hurricane Irma. Photo: Germán Veloz Placencia

When it became evident that Hurricane Irma would impact the island’s northern coast, steps were taken not only to protect Cuban families but also the thousands of tourists who had chosen Cuba as their vacation destination.

The country’s tourism poles – the majority located along the northern coastline – guests, and workers there immediately became a priority in preparedness and disaster mitigation efforts.

Alexis Trujillo Morejón.jpgAlexis Trujillo Morejón, first deputy minister of Tourism in Cuba, told Granma International that as a priority, among the measures adopted by the Ministry, along with Civil Defense authorities, was the protection of the 45,827 tourists staying in hotels along the country’s northern coast, a figure that represented 88% of all the international vacationers in the country (51,807), on September 5. Photo: Juvenal Balán

There were additionally 2,216 Cubans at Campismo Popular facilities in the region, who were also evacuated.

The transfer of tourists to more secure facilities began in the province of Camagüey and the northern keys of Ciego de Ávila and Villa Clara, including the barrier islands of Cayo Coco, Guillermo and Santa María, areas where the eye of the storm was forecast to make landfall.

Staying on the keys were 10,625 visitors, 5,134 of whom were evacuated to Havana and Varadero, a process that demanded greater organization and discipline than during such events in the past. The remaining 5,491 were Canadians, whose tour operators returned them to their country before the hurricane arrived.

A tense moment came when Irma’s expected turn to the north toward Florida was delayed, and the hurricane remained practically at a standstill very close to Varadero for several hours.

On the peninsula, as Irma approached, were 16,784 tourists – including those evacuated from the northern keys – as well as 4,179 workers.

Nonetheless, not one person was hurt, given the preparation, organization, and discipline achieved, Trujillo reported with pride.

In terms of the network of hotels in Havana, he recounted that the decision was made to evacuate all facilities located on the northern coast, from Jibacoa in Mayabeque to the Hemingway Marina on the west side of Havana, given the eminent danger of coastal flooding, adding that on other occasions only partial evacuations were necessary.

The recovery of tourists poles will be completed in record time

Despite the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma along the country’s northern coast, Trujillo said, “The tourist poles did not experience significant damage,” reporting that no installation suffered structural damage, although glass windows, ceilings, and aluminum trim were affected, while some lightweight constructions like beach huts and outdoor eating areas succumbed to the winds.

Tourist facilities in the country’s eastern region, which was not hit directly by the hurricane, are at this time operating normally, he said. Guantánamo, Santiago de Cuba, and Granma did not suffer damage, while in Las Tunas, hotel accommodations were quickly readied. Holguín, which faced only light damage, recovered within a short time, and maintained services. This resort area confronted Irma with 3,935 tourists safely lodged in its hotels.

The timeline established for the recovery work indicates that facilities in Camaguey’s Santa Lucía resort area will be completely repaired by the end of September, while in the case of the keys where damage was greater, all will be in order by the beginning of the high season.

Varadero maintained operations throughout the hurricane’s passage and the country’s most important resort began the clean-up as soon as the recovery phase was declared, starting immediately with the task of replacing glass and other light elements. The international airport was reopened, to complement the resort’s operations, and incoming and outgoing flights reestablished.

The capital will also recover in record time. Several hotels were barely affected, and others have begun repairs.

Likewise, the citywide clean-up is underway, and staff members are working feverishly to ready facilities in order to receive clients immediately.

The full recovery of all tourist poles is a priority, since tourism is a strategic sector for the economy. It has been reaffirmed that facilities will be ready and operating before the beginning of the winter high season. The human and material resources to accomplish this task are in place, Trujillo concluded.

 

Raúl praises the hard work across the country following Hurricane Irma

Source:  Granma
September 15 2017

By : Leticia Martínez Hernández | internet@granma.cu

The President of the National Defense Council led a meeting to assess the damage caused by Hurricane Irma and the actions to be taken during the recovery phase

raul praises sept 2017.jpgPhoto: Estudio Revolución

The President of the National Defense Council, Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, led a meeting with Party, state and government leaders on Wednesday, September 13, during which the damages caused by Hurricane Irma were evaluated, and the actions to be undertaken during the recovery phase outlined.

Raúl recognized the hard work in each of the areas affected by the devastating meteorological event, which struck virtually the entire island. He noted that if any benefit can be obtained from this difficult situation, it is to immediately collect experiences to better prepare for future events of this nature.

The President warned that the present hurricane season, which has been described as intense, extends until November 30, an evident product of climate change and to which we must adapt.

The Army General called to continue working tirelessly to calmly resolve problems and to keep the people informed by all possible means on the situation facing the country.

Forced to evacuate to 1,738,000 people

During the meeting it was highlighted that given Irma’s path across several provinces, authorities were forced to evacuate to 1,738,000 people, of them 86% were sheltered in the homes of neighbors and relatives. The head of the National Civil Defense General Staff, Major General Ramón Pardo Guerra, reported that more than 26,000 people remain in evacuation centers.

As he noted, the National Office of Statistics and Information is working to assess the damages, and preliminary figures are expected to be released in the coming days.

Alfredo López Valdés, minister of Energy and Mines, stated that the Antonio Guiteras thermoelectric power station in Matanzas had suffered the strongest and most difficult impact to be solved in this sector, as its sea water supply system, a key element in the cooling process, was destroyed by huge storm surges.

Highly specialized staff are working to compensate for damages and to ensure the plant is back in operation in the next few days.

Work ongoing day and night

In addition, 15 transmission lines suffered damages, and more than 3,600 posts and 2,039 kilometers of power lines were affected. Work is ongoing day and night to restore service, the minister stressed, emphasizing that this was the first time the power system had ceased to operate throughout the entire country.

Around 90 oil wells, located on the north coast of the western and central regions, were also damaged by the storm surges caused by the hurricane.

López Valdés praised the work of the mixed brigades which, on orders of the Army General, were created in the affected territories for debris clearing, tree pruning, and the transportation of utility poles.

Finally, he explained that the major efforts to restore electricity are concentrated in the provinces of Villa Clara and Ciego de Ávila, territories with the most complex impacts.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Construction is participating in the recovery efforts with more than 20,400 construction workers and 855 engineering machines, devoted to debris collection, the repair of roads, bridges and drains, as well as the repair of housing and public buildings.

Cement and roof tile factories are producing at full capacity

Sector Minister René Mesa Villafaña noted that the major impacts of the hurricane were concentrated on housing, especially damage to roofing. Although the exact figures regarding the damage are not yet available, efforts are already underway to help those whose homes were destroyed, for which cement and roof tile factories are producing at full capacity. The Camagüey tile factory is also expected to begin operations in the coming days.

Meanwhile, the most serious damages to agriculture were seen in the poultry sector, as dozens of egg production sheds lost their roofs. Julio A. García Pérez, first deputy minister of Agriculture, explained that the production of feed, plantain and corn crops, as well as fruit trees, have also been affected.

Work is now intensifying in the reactivation of the varied crops campaign, for which, he said, seeds, fertilizers and pesticides are available.

On this point, José Ramón Machado Ventura, a vice president of the Councils of State and Ministers, considered that, despite the damages, the agricultural sector is in better conditions than in previous situations to recover from Irma’s impact.

The health system maintained services

Public Health Minister Roberto Morales Ojeda reported that the health system maintained services during the passage of the hurricane, and that to date there have been no outbreaks of communicable diseases in evacuation centers or any territory. Regarding Cuban collaborators working in the Caribbean countries hit by the cyclone, he noted that they are well and have joined the recovery efforts in these islands.

Ojeda revealed that 516 health units were damaged, and work is underway to restore them in the shortest possible time. He added that the current priority is environmental sanitation and vector control, for which all necessary resources are available.

Finally, regarding the effects on tourism, sector Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz explained that more than 51,000 vacationers were on the island when the hurricane hit, of these some 45,000 were located on the northern coast. About 10,000 tourists were evacuated from the Santa María, Coco and Guillermo keys.

He noted that the damaged infrastructure is being repaired, to ensure it is ready for the upcoming high season beginning in the first half of November.

Raul:  we’ll come through this once again

On closing the meeting, President Raúl reiterated the need to deal with problems intelligently, taking into account the best experiences put into practice in the face of similar events, especially at the local level. In this regard, he mentioned the efforts deployed in Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo, following the impact of hurricanes Sandy in 2012, and Matthew in 2016, respectively.

This time the impact has been very strong and spread throughout most of the country, he said, but with the hard work that is being done, we’ll come through this once again.