- Title: Cuba’s Raul Castro oversees preparations as Cuba braces for Hurricane Matthew
- Date: 2nd October 2016
- Summary: HAVANA, CUBA (OCTOBER 1, 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF KIDS SITTING ON THE MALECON SEA WALL WAVES SPLASHING ON A ROCK PEOPLE WALKING ON THE MALECON GENERAL OF HAVANA BAY
- Embargoed: 17th October 2016 03:26
- Keywords: Cuba Hurricane Matthew hurricane Raul Castro storm category 4
- Location: SANTIAGO DE CUBA, GRANMA AND HAVANA, CUBA / INTERNET
- City: SANTIAGO DE CUBA, GRANMA AND HAVANA, CUBA / INTERNET
- Country: Cuba
- Topics: Disaster/Accidents,Wind/Hurricane/Typhoons/Tornadoes
- Reuters ID: LVA00452B8SAV
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Cuban President Raul Castro travelled to the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba on Saturday (October 1) as the region braces for Hurricane Matthew, the most powerful cyclone to form over the Atlantic since Hurricane Felix in 2007.
Cuba's official website Cubadebate said Castro led a meeting with government ministers, the national defence council and local officials as they oversaw preparations in Santiago de Cuba and other eastern provinces which are in the path of Matthew projections.
Cuba declared the first stage of an emergency in five eastern provinces. In its second city, Santiago de Cuba, the ruling Communist Party opened shelters and organized volunteer teams to clean storm drains and gather food stocks.
Santiago de Cuba was pummelled by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, but the President of the Provincial Defence Council for the province, Lazaro Exposito, said they are better prepared for Matthew.
"I think we are really well prepared; more prepared than when we faced Sandy, and with the conditions to confront this phenomenon with strength and the conviction to win," Exposito said.
Sandy, carrying 124-mph (200-km.) winds, caught the city by surprise on the morning of October 25, 2012, damaging half the housing stock and most public buildings, killing 11 residents and laying waste to nearby crops and fruit orchards.
The storm later devastated parts of the United States East Coast.
Workers here were busy pruning back trees to limit damage and stocking up food supplies to be delivered to families ahead of the storm.
State media warned residents in the area to prepare for the coming storm.
"The Cyclone Alert Phase has been put into action for the provinces stretching from Camaguey to Guantanamo and the Information Phase for the provinces from Cienfuegos to Ciego de Avila starting at 4 p.m. (2000 GMT) today," a news presenter said, reading an official government statement.
Matthew, with winds at about 150 miles per hour (240 kph), could make landfall as a major storm on Jamaica's southern coast before continuing north to Cuba.
A state weather presenter said it was not clear where exactly the storm would land on Cuba, but that its size could lead wide-reaching affects.
"A big danger looms over eastern parts of the country and most of the possible trajectories right now are a bit unclear around the area near Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo, but as I said it's big, well, it doesn't really make a difference," the presenter said on state television.
Matthew was about 385 miles (620 km.) southeast of Kingston on Saturday afternoon and the U.S. National Hurricane Center ranked it at Category 4 of the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity. Earlier it had been ranked at the top Category 5.
Forecasters described Matthew's movements as erratic on Saturday, but said it would approach Jamaica and southwestern Haiti on Sunday (October 2).
The hurricane was expected to reach Cuba early on Tuesday (October 4).
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