HAVANA – Hurricane Irma left more than 1.5 million cubic meters (19.6 million cubic yards) of solid waste in the streets of Havana, where some 137,000 cubic meters has already been collected in the form of downed trees, roofs, rubble, telephone poles and electric and other wiring.
The cleanup of the Cuban capital is being undertaken by 19,240 workers with the state-run Community Services agency using 731 trucks and 12 cranes, according to a report on the island’s recovery efforts published in the official daily Juventud Rebelde.
The more than 19,000 workers are being supported by military and navy brigades along with prison inmates and volunteer state workers.
In Havana, the districts suffering the most damage from the storm were Central Havana, Old Havana, Vedado and Playa, where the storm surge came some 300 meters (330 yards) inland and hurricane-force winds damaged thousands of homes, causing some of them to collapse completely.
More than 4,400 homes had been registered as damaged as of Wednesday, with a total of 178 of them having collapsed completely.
The Cuban state has equipped a number of sites as shelters for those made homeless by the storm, most of them coming from Central Havana, which has a large number of old houses, many of them already in poor repair before Irma.
The hurricane left at least 10 people dead on the island, most of them perishing when their houses collapsed.
The storm also seriously affected the electricity grid in Havana and east-central Cuba, which was the portion of the country hardest hit by the Category 5 hurricane, the most powerful rating on the Saffir-Simpson scale.
Nationwide, the storm knocked down some 2,400 communications poles or towers, and another 1,000 electric power poles, not to mention the uncounted trees downed throughout the country.
According to the most recent reports, 86 percent of Havana’s electric grid has been restored, although some portions of Eastern Havana, Playa and Plaza de la Revolucion remain without power.
The authorities have said that the capital electric grid will be fully functioning by Thursday.
Potable water service has also been largely regularized, although 10 percent of the capital – and some 14,600 residents – are still being supplied by cistern trucks.
Fuel – particularly gasoline – supplies are also getting back to normal in the city, where more than a million liters (264,000 gallons) have been sold at local service stations, according to the official report.