Cuba: Pinar Del Rio Rises up Thanks to Solidarity after Ian’s Passage

By Alejandra Garcia on November 15, 2022 from Havana

photo: José M. Correa

Pinar del Rio doesn’t want to remember the early morning of September 27 or the days and nights following the devastating passage of Ian, which reached the west of the island as a powerful Category 3 hurricane. The images that it left behind are devastating. The force of the winds destroyed thousands of houses, especially in the poorest communities; the rains overflowed creeks; the province was left in darkness from then on. According to the office of the presidency, 68,370 homes were damaged in the storm in Pinar del Rio alone.

But today, two months after those almost-apocalyptic images, Pinar del Río is recovering and returning to a level of normalcy. the farmers are back in their fields; the houses are rising little by little from the ground, and, the best news is, 99.4 percent of the province has electric power.

It seems impossible. But the more than 2,200 linemen who participated in the recovery of electric service in Pinar del Río made it possible.

“They were days of intense work, but we didn’t lose the will to move forward. This was a collective effort among citizens, farmers, linemen from all the provinces of the country who traveled to Pinar del Río to give their lives, if necessary,” the president of the Provincial Defense Council, Yamilé Ramos Cordero said.

In a ceremony held on Monday, the authorities of the territory remembered the young Camagüeyan lineman José Ignacio Rodríguez Antúnez, who lost his life in an unfortunate accident while on duty.

Twenty-three National Electric Union brigades, patiently and without pause, set up poles, transformers, and hundreds of kilometers of lines and installed 117 emergency generators for vital services and evacuation centers.

Within hours of Ian’s passage, more than 4,800 hard-working men and women arrived in the west to help and lived and worked for over 40 days in campaign conditions, in 16-hour shifts, hundreds of miles away from their families.

These men and women had already been involved in the recovery of electrical services after the passage of many cyclones, including the tornado that hit Havana in 2019, but “we had never seen such a disaster. This was our most difficult mission,” said Boris Alfonso Hernández, who worked as the lead technician of one brigade.

Pinar del Río had 284 work groups, 153 line brigades, and 131 emergency vehicles, with the support of 14 provinces. They were the main protagonists of this feat, which is not over yet. Most of the residents of the communities of the San Luis and San Juan y Martínez municipalities are still without electricity.

“Brigades from Havana, Granma, and Guantanamo will be working in those territories until every house recovers its electricity,” Ramos added.

“We have been witnesses to the feat performed by them. There has been an outpouring of solidarity and Cuban brotherhood from every brigade and lineman,” she said and emphasized that “all of them, thanks to their contribution, have made their homeland proud,” she concluded.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericno – US