By Carlos Harrison | Sun-Sentinel.com
8:12 AM EDT, August 31, 2008
Cuba awoke Sunday to widespread damage and flooding in the wake of one
of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the island in more than 60 years
-- Telephone lines and communication towers knocked to the ground. Roads
washed out. Cisterns and tin roofs ripped from buildings. Massive trees
Storm surge pushed seawater inland more than two miles, according to
official Cuban media reports, and Hurricane Gustav's 150 mph sustained
winds caused untold damage to the tobacco-growing regions agriculture.
With spotty reports coming in from towns in the powerful Category 4
storm's path, there were also reports of multiple injuries, but no deaths.
Cuban officials evacuated more than 300,000 people in advance of the
storm, and promised the continued distribution of food for people in the
affected areas. Sunday morning, however, the national press reported
severe damage to roadways throughout much of the western end of the
island, complicating relief efforts.
The sprawling storm -- with tropical storm force winds extending out
some 200 miles from its massive center -- intensified just before coming
ashore and battered the island for more than seven hours as it crossed
the island, beginning in mid-afternoon Saturday.
The force of the winds sent parked cars flying and ripped the doors off
of houses in Isla de Juventud, said local civil defense official Ana Isa
Cuban officials reported at least one gust of 204 mph and several in
excess of 180 mph in the city of Paso Real.
Electric power remained out in all of Isla de Juventud and throughout
much of Havana as the sun rose Sunday morning.
Officials in Pinar del Rio, Cuba's westernmost province, said that
although some 150 tropical storms and hurricanes had hit the island over
the last century, the region had not felt one as powerful as Gustav