By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
HAVANA/TALLAHASSEE (Worthy News) – Residents of Florida’s Gulf Coast rushed to prepare for a deadly storm that had already killed people in Communist-run Cuba and left the island without power on Wednesday.
More than 2.5 million people in Florida were under evacuation orders. Many could be seen packing up their vehicles to either leave the U.S. state or head for higher ground as Hurricane Ian drew near.
Ian hit across the southeastern edge of the Gulf of Mexico heading for Florida after slamming into Cuba earlier in the day, destroying its electricity grid.
Officials said the storm had proven to be too much for the system, provoking a failure that shut off the lights for the island’s 11.3 million people.
Cuba is complete without power after Hurricane Ian pummelled the western end of the island, its government confirmed.
The electrical system is experiencing total collapse, officials said, after one of the central power plants could not be brought back online. Two people were reported dead, and buildings were damaged nationwide.
On Cuban state television on Tuesday, the head of the electrical energy authority announced that an island-wide blackout had occurred. It was unclear how many could watch tv without backup generators.
Authorities estimated that as a result of the national electrical system’s breakdown, 11 million people were in the dark.
Based in Matanzas, 100 kilometers (62,5 miles) east of the capital Havana, Antonio Guiteras is the most critical energy plant in Cuba. Its shutdown means there is currently no electricity generation, sources said.
The category three hurricane, packing wind speeds of up to 195km/h (120mph), also impacted Florida.
The owner of the famous Finca Robaina cigar producer posted photos on social media of the havoc wreaked by the hurricane on the tobacco farms. “It was apocalyptic, a real disaster,” wrote Hirochi Robaina.
Similar scenes were feared across the sea in Florida, where there were concerns the sprawling storm on track could make landfall as a Category 3 or Category 4 hurricane on Wednesday evening somewhere along Florida’s Gulf Coast.
A Category 3 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale carries maximum sustained winds of up to 129 miles per hour (208 km per hour). The hurricane advisory put Ian’s top winds at 120 mph (195 km per hour).
Back in Cuba, Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel visited a devastated province and vowed that it would rise “above adversity.”
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