The bishops of eastern Cuba toured the provinces of Santiago, Holguin and Guantanamo to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy, and bring pastoral and material aid to thousands of victims.

An official from the Diocese of Holguin told CNA on Oct. 26 that local Bishop Emilio Aranguren "personally went to all of the affected parishes," and later went to Santiago to meet with Archbishop Dionisio Garcia, who also toured the affected areas.

"The churches in Holguin were not damaged, only minor things," the official said, although many homes and fields in the diocese were affected.  

In the case of Santiago, local reports described the city as "almost devastated," with severe damaged reported at the Cathedral, the Shrine of Our Lady of Cobre and the Church of St. Therese. Power and phone lines were also down, making communication difficult.

Manolo Martinez of Caritas Holguin said emergency teams are fanning out across the affected regions of the province and that "every parish is making an analysis of its surroundings so that we can do our best to help the greatest number of people possible."

The government has also launched relief efforts, Martinez said. Aid from the Church "is coming from communities that were not affected and from the nearby dioceses of Holguin and Santiago, as well as from the national office of Caritas," he added.