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Destruction Left by Hurricane Irma in Cuba Adds to Unease about the Effects of Climate Change

LADB Article ID: 80427
Category/Department: Cuba
Date: 2017-10-05
By: Daniel Vázquez

Hurricane Irma affected most of the Cuban archipelago, leaving behind a dozen deaths, floods, destruction, and worsening the local population’s feelings of helplessness in the face of climate change. Cuba has been affected by severe droughts, rising sea levels, and floods in recent years. Climate disruption is no longer an abstract topic of conversation for Cubans; it is a living nightmare, creating fears of losing homes, belongings, and crops. Cubans have resigned themselves to the fact that summers are getting hotter and lasting longer––excessive heat is becoming an obsession, along with concerns about low water levels in the reservoirs and a drought that has starved cattle and ruined crops. Coastlines and beaches are eroding due to the rising sea level, and residents of low areas along the coast in Havana are dealing with waves at high tide that abruptly flood ground floors and garages.For decades, Cuba’s government implemented a hurricane warning system and massive evacuations that serve to avoid fatalities. However, the upsurge in increasingly violent hurricanes poses new challenges for the government. Storms have sparked outbreaks of protest such as those that arose in areas of Havana due to the lack of electric power and potable water after Irma.

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