Saturday, October 26, 2013

Santiago de Cuba - Post Sandy Reconstruction Brings Contrasts & Questions

Santiago de Cuba: Post Sandy Reconstruction Brings Contrasts & Questions
October 25, 2013
By Dariela Aquique

HAVANA TIMES — The morning of October 25, 2012, will be an unpleasant
memory for the people of Santiago de Cuba for a long time to come. The
horror of hurricane Sandy caused the loss of human lives (not many,
thank God) and all types of material damage.

No precautions sufficed against the nefarious onslaught of the winds.
Our first photo feature, completed some hours after the devastating
incident, gathered truly sad images across the city.

For several days, the city was without electricity, communications and
drinking water. Little by little, all services were restored. Many
houses and apartments, however, weren't so lucky.

In a second piece on the incident, written exactly six months after the
tragedy, I wrote (and it is well worth remembering) that, while recovery
efforts were undertaken promptly, they were by no means complete.

Today, exactly one year since the hurricane struck the province, the
provincial head of Housing, Alfredo Torres, reports that 54 percent of
the damage to houses remains to be repaired and only 10 percent of the
cases involving the complete collapse of the dwelling have been addressed.

It is said that, in ten years, more than 29 thousand homes for those
affected by the hurricane will be constructed and unsanitary conditions
in different neighborhoods will be eliminated through the use of modern
construction technologies.

Though local and foreign construction brigades are working in different
parts of the city to erect buildings for the families who lost their
homes to the hurricane and the State is covering fifty percent of the
costs of the building materials sold to the victims, recovery efforts
are still not enough.

The fact of the matter is that there is something of a pebble in many
people's shoes: if so much damage was done to people's most prized
possession, their homes, why were so many resources destined to other

Though it is true that many facilities and establishments built or
repaired through these initiatives make the city prettier, it is also
true that a considerable quantity of construction materials and labor
were destined to the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the assault
on the Moncada garrison this past July.

One case in point was the major repair of the Hotel Rex, undertaken for
the simple reason that a number of the individuals involved in the
attack on the garrison stayed there at one point.

The monumental art gallery located near the former garrison, the
reconstruction and modernization of the Abel Santamaria park (where the
military hospital was once located) are other examples.

Other establishments whose facades or interiors were restored or
renovated have opened around the city, like the hard-currency (and
perennially empty) chocolate shop.

The most questionable initiative was building a curious restaurant
(shaped like an airport, and fitted with a plane), in the neighborhood
of San Pedrito, one of the most severely damaged in the city.

Thus, among other things, I would like to share with you these photos,
which contrast the still-damaged houses with the recently opened State

Source: "Santiago de Cuba: Post Sandy Reconstruction Brings Contrasts &
Questions - Havana" -

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