Monday, September 1, 2008
HAVANA, Aug. 31 -- Cubans returned from shelters to find flooded homes and washed-out roads Sunday, but no deaths were reported after Hurricane Gustav roared across the island and into the Gulf of Mexico.
Gustav hit the Isla de la Juventud (Isle of Youth), south of the Cuban mainland, just short of a top-scale Category 5 hurricane, with 140-mph winds that toppled telephone poles and fruit trees, shattered windows and leveled some homes.
Authorities evacuated 250,000 residents nationwide. In Pinar del Rio, a tobacco-producing region in the west, highways were blocked by fallen trees and downed power lines, and public transportation ground to a halt.
Officials measured gusts of 212 mph in the western town of Paso Real del San Diego -- a national record for maximum wind speed in a country often hit by major hurricanes, said Miguel Angel Hernandez of the Cuban Institute of Meteorology.
Cuban civil defense chief Ana Isa Delgado said many people were injured on the Isla de la Juventud, which has a population of 87,000.
Gustav killed 84 people by triggering floods and landslides in Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.
-- Associated Press