The secretary general of Caritas Cuba said it will take years for the eastern section of the country to recover from Hurricane Sandy but that the local Church is bringing relief to thousands of victims.
Maritza Sanchez told CNA on Oct. 29 that the situation in Cuba “remains very difficult, especially in the city of Santiago, because the damage has been so severe.”
“The hurricane practically devastated the city and nearby towns,” she said. “It also damaged towns in the provinces of Guantanamo and Holguin.”
In addition to the large number of homes that were damaged, coffee and plantain fields, as well as phone and power lines and other infrastructure were also destroyed.
“The military is helping with the cleanup on many roads. It will take time to recover despite the efforts. The recovery will take years,” Sanchez said, adding that 90 percent of the churches in the Archdiocese of Santiago, as well as numerous convents and rectories were also damaged in the storm.
“Caritas is trying to help, but the truth is that the damage is overwhelming. However, the Church must always do whatever possible to try to alleviate suffering and give hope to the people, and that is objective of our work right now,” Sanchez said.
While the Cuban government plays the key role in providing assistance, she continued, the Church is helping wherever possible and is seeking “to officially collaborate with the structures of the State in order to broaden our efforts.”
She said priests in hardest hit areas are identifying the families that have been most affected and are helping to distribute the food and water provided by Caritas. In some areas make-shift soup kitchens have been set up to help those whose needs are critical.
Sanchez noted that Caritas Cuba has already received financial assistance from the United States and Switzerland and Germany.