Hurricane Irma devastates areas of Cuba, kills at least 10

Unmaintained historic buildings couldn't withstand Irma's powerful punch

REMEDIOS, Cuba – After Hurricane Irma left a trail of destruction in Cuba, officials were working to deliver aid to the areas in need Monday evening.

Authorities estimate the Category 5 storm killed at least 10 people in the northern coast of the island. Hurricane Dennis killed 16 people in 2005.

Most of the storm's victims were in Havana. The powerful storm surge flooded central residential neighborhoods along the coast of the island's capital Saturday. 

"This was the worst of the storms I have been through, and the sea rose much higher," said Hector Pulpito, who was working as a custodian at a parking lot in the Vedado neighborhood. "The trees were shaking. Metal roofs went flying."

After issuing mandatory evacuations for about 1 million Cubans nationwide, many returned to the ruins of unmaintained colonial buildings that couldn't withstand the storm's powerful punch. Hundreds were homeless. 

The worst seawater flooding -- about one-third of a mile inland -- was between the Almendares River and the harbor. 

On Animas Street in Central Havana, 51-year-old Walfrido Antonio Valdes Perez was caring for his older brother, Roydis, who worked as a florist until he was diagnosed with HIV. They lived on the second floor of building divided into 11 apartments, many of them divided by crude intermediate floors known as “barbeques.”

After midnight, as wind whipped the neighborhood, a wall collapsed onto the roof of their building, crushing the two brothers to death.

No one noticed until the next morning, when neighbors saw a foot sticking out of the rubble.

“We felt something, but no one imagined the roof and barbeque had collapsed,” said homemaker Yudisleidis Mederos, 34. “These building are in really bad shape. Their room was the best one.”

She and her neighbors remembered Roydis, 54, as a kind and helpful man who had become a virtual family member, helping care for their children, feed them and put them down for naps.


The victims' identities 

Osvaldo Abreu Barroso, 71, was electrocuted while trying to remove the TV antena. He died in the Plaza de la Revolucion municipality in Havana. 

Alberto Francisco Flores Garcia, 77, a pole collapsed and hit him. He was walking along the Egido Street in Havana when he died. 

Maria del Carmen Arregoitia Cardona, 27, died when a balcony collapsed and fell over the bus traveling in Havana. She was from the municipality of Bauta in the province of Artemisa.

Yolendis Castillo Martinez, 27, died when a balcony collapsed and fell over the bus traveling in Havana. She was from Santiago de cuba. 

Roydis Valdes Perez, 54, and his brother Walfrido Antonio Valdes Perez, 51, died when a building collapsed in Havana. 

Nieves Martinez Burgaleta, 89, drowned in the storm surge. Her body was found floating in front of her home in Havana. 

Alberto Manzano Martinez, 65, died when his home collapsed after he refused to evacuate from his home in Matanzas. 

Orlando Torres Cruz, 53, died when a home collapsed after he refused to evacuate in Ciego de Avila. 

Edilberto Cabrera Rodriguez, 64, died when a home collapsed after he refused to evacuate in Camaguey. 

This is a developing story. Refresh this link for the latest information. 


About the Authors: