Workers remove a boat from the water in the bay of Havana, Cuba, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. Hurricane Ian was growing stronger as it approached the western tip of Cuba on a track to hit the west coast of Florida as a major hurricane as early as Wednesday. (AP Photo/Milexsy Duran)
Ns News Online Desk: HAVANA (AP) — A strengthening Hurricane Ian’s rain and winds lashed Cuba’s western tip, where authorities have evacuated 50,000 people, as it roared on a path that could see it hit Florida’s west coast as a Category 4 hurricane.
Officials in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province set up 55 shelters, rushed in emergency personnel and took steps to protect crops in Cuba’s main tobacco-growing region ahead of Ian’s expected landfall early Tuesday as a major hurricane. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said the island’s west coast could see as much as 14 feet (4.3 meters) of storm surge.
“Cuba is expecting extreme hurricane-force winds, also life-threatening storm surge and heavy rainfall,” hurricane center senior specialist Daniel Brown told The Associated Press.
After passing over Cuba, Ian was forecast to strengthen further over warm Gulf of Mexico waters before reaching Florida as early as Wednesday as a Category 4 storm with top winds of 140 mph (225 km/h).In Havana on Monday, fishermen were taking their boats out of the water along the famous Malecon seaside boulevard, and city workers were unclogging storm drains ahead of the expected rain.
Havana resident Adyz Ladron said the potential for rising water from the storm worries him.
“I am very scared because my house gets completely flooded, with water up to here,” he said, pointing to his chest.
In Havana’s El Fanguito, a poor neighborhood near the Almendares River, residents were packing up what they could to leave their homes.
“I hope we escape this one because it would be the end of us. We already have so little,” health worker Abel Rodrigues said.
As of 2 a.m. Tuesday, Ian was moving northwest at 13 mph (20 km/h), about 85 miles (136 kilometers) east of the western tip of Cuba, with top sustained winds increasing to 110 mph (177 km/h).
President Joe Biden also declared an emergency, authorizing the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate disaster relief and provide assistance to protect lives and property. The president postponed a scheduled Tuesday trip to Florida because of the storm.
By Associated Press