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Unpowered Cuba Shuts Down Power Grid After Hurricane Ian – NECNOUS News

When Hurricane Ian hit the western tip of the island as a major hurricane on Tuesday, power was cut across all of Cuba and devastated some of the country’s most important tobacco farms.

The Cuban Electricity Union said in a statement that it is working to gradually serve the country’s 11 million people throughout the night. Power was initially supplied to about 1 million people in Cuba’s western provinces, but later the entire grid went down.

Ian hit a Cuban that has been grappling with the economic crisis and has faced frequent power cuts in recent months. It landed on the western tip of the island as a Category 3 storm and devastated the province of Pinar del Río, where much of the tobacco used for Cuba’s iconic cigars is grown.

Tens of thousands of people were evacuated and others fled the area before Ian’s arrival, causing flooding, damage to homes and felling of trees. Although no deaths were reported Tuesday night, officials were still assessing the damage.

Ian’s winds damaged one of Cuba’s most important tobacco farms in La Robaina.

“It was like apocalypse, a real disaster,” said Hirochi Robaina, owner of the farm that bears his name and which made his grandfather internationally known.

Robaina, who also owns the Finca Robaina cigar maker, posted photos on social media showing that wooden and thatched roofs were crushed, greenhouses and wagons in rubble were toppled.

State media said that Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel had visited the affected area.

The Cuban Meteorological Institute said the city of Pinar del Río was at its worst for an hour and a half from the hurricane.

“It was horrible for me to be in a hurricane, but here we are alive,” said Pinar del Rio resident Yusimí Palacios, who asked authorities for a roof and mattress.

Authorities had set up 55 shelters and took steps to protect crops, especially tobacco.

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Cuba experienced “significant wind and storm surge effects” when the hurricane hit with peak sustained winds of 125 mph (205 kph).

Ian was expected to grow stronger in the warm Gulf of Mexico and reach peak winds of 130 mph (209 kph) approaching Florida’s southwest coast where 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister spoke to the media on Tuesday as Hurricane Ian swept north from the Gulf of Mexico.

Scenes of destruction unfolded in Cuba as the center of the storm moved to the Gulf. Authorities were still assessing the damage to the world-famous tobacco belt.

Local government station TelePinar tweeted photos of collapsed ceilings and fallen trees, reporting heavy damage to the main hospital in the city of Pinar del Rio. No deaths were reported.

Videos on social media showed power lines snapped and roads cut in the states of Pinar del Rio, Artemisa, and Mayabeque. A hospital was damaged in Pinar del Río.

“The town was flooded,” said Andy Muñoz, 37, a farmer who lives in Playa Cajío in Artemisa.

He said many people lost their belongings due to the storm.

“I spent the hurricane at home with my husband and dog. The wall and zinc roof of the house had just been done. But the storm destroyed it,” said Mercedes Valdés, who lives on the highway that connects Pinar del Río to San Juan y Martínez. “We couldn’t save our stuff…we just ran out.”