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  • Workers from the Cuban electricity company working to repair a post damaged by the violent tornado in Havana. Jan. 30, 2019.

    Workers from the Cuban electricity company working to repair a post damaged by the violent tornado in Havana. Jan. 30, 2019. | Photo: ACN

Published 30 January 2019

The Cuban government and volunteers are working to clean the city and immediately start reconstruction efforts.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel has said no one “would be left behind” and guaranteed the government has the resources and the political will to help people affected by the tornado that hit Havana on Sunday night.

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“Against a devastating tornado, a human tsunami for reconstruction. Cuba knows and practices solidarity. An organized society, a planified economy, a socialist government, will always have reserves so no one is left behind,” Diaz-Canel wrote on his Twitter account.

The president met with the Council of Ministers on Thursday to discuss the reconstruction process and called for greater care for those affected.

“Everything that we build again must be improved, stronger and prettier than before,” he said Tuesday.

At least four people died and 195 were injured by the tornado, which knocked down trees, damaged electricity infrastructure, carried away cars and severely affected some houses in the capital.

Cubadebate attributes the meteorological event to an extratropical drop that descended from the southeast of the Gulf of Mexico to the western region of the country. It hit with winds raging at over 100 kilometers per hour.

People from across the country have gathered in Havana to join the efforts for reconstruction.

Cuban telecommunications company Etecsa said they’ve been working extensively to re-establish access to mass media, mobile networks and wifi. To do so, emergency teams from other provinces and parts of Havana have been brought to the affected municipalities.

Meanwhile, Communications Minister Jorge Luis Perdomo said that 31 public phones have been installed as a temporary measure. People will have access to free calls up to three minutes while the service is completely re-established.

After a meeting with ministers and the president, the mayor of Havana Reynaldo Garcia Zapata said the government is process of purchasing material for reconstruction, which will be available for the affected people starting on Wednesday.

About 144,000 clients have no access to electricity, according to the energy and mines minister, Raul Garcia Barreiro, who said that 83 percent of the damage has been resolved.

By Friday, said Garcia Zapata, the affected municipalities of Guanabacoa and Regla should be clean from debris, while the most affected will take a couple of days more. The government organized brigades from the Mayabeque, Artemisa, Matanzas, Pinar del Rio and Cienfuegos provinces to help in the reconstruction efforts.

“Havana is not alone. Political and government authorities of the province, as well as the members of the Council of Ministers, worked from the beginning on the damage evaluation and the territory planning calling to work with discipline and speed,” twitted Garcia Zapata.

The mayor also recognized the labor of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the Minister of Interior since the first moments of the disaster.

The Foreign Commerce Minister Rodrigo Malmierca Diaz informed that the World Food Programme, the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund offered food, construction and pedagogical material, which are already in the island and are being administered by a special mechanism.

Students, volunteers and members of the different provinces and organizations, such as Brothers Saiz Association also joined the cleaning and reconstruction efforts.

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