” Mr. Speaker, Everyone acknowledges that the United States has lessons to learn from the disgraceful Federal and local response to Hurricane Katrina. Even the President has ordered a review of the government response to the hurricane and declared that necessary changes must be made to be better prepared for the future. Perhaps we could learn lessons from an island just 90 miles south of Florida that is frequently buffeted by hurricanes. Yesterday CNN aired the following story about the Cuban Government’s successful methods of responding to hurricanes:
CNN Transcript: Hurricane Rita, Lessons From Cuba?
Sept. 20, 2005
Lloyd: “You hear a lot about evacuations as a hurricane nears; yesterday, the mayor of Galveston, Texas — where Rita could be headed — declared a state of emergency in that city. She also said mandatory evacuations will start today. In Cuba, which sits on the northern edge of the Caribbean Sea, the government usually has strict guidelines in place for hurricanes. Lucia Newman went to the island nation to bring us this story about Cuba’s secrets for saving lives.
Lucia Newman, CNN reporter: “Cuba is the largest and most populated island in the Caribbean yet it consistently experiences the lowest death tolls during hurricane season. According to United Nations, it’s not because Cubans are lucky but because they’re prepared.
“‘We were prepared for a big one, and big it was,’ says this man of Hurricane Ivan. He and nearly 2 million others were evacuated from low lying areas and fragile buildings ahead of the hurricane. Nobody was killed.
“Preparations for a hurricane start well in advance. The same system that gives the communist state total political and economic control is used efficiently to mobilize the nation to face natural disasters.
“State run television and the civil defense authority bombard the population with information and instructions about what measures to take. On every block, there’s a person assigned to take a census on who is being evacuated to which shelter, with special attention paid to the elderly and pregnant women.
“‘We have a list, and tell each person where they have to go and there, they’re taken care of,’ says Llance Perez.
“In the fishing village of La Coloma, which is vulnerable to hurricane flooding, a massive evacuation was mandatory. The police and army were responsible for guaranteeing there was no looting. Electricity is cut ahead of the hurricane to prevent electrocutions.
“After Hurricane Ivan, the seaside village of Las Canas looked like a ghost town. Its residents evacuated days earlier. But while many lost much of their belongings, at least no one had to cry over the loss of a loved one. Lucia Newman, CNN, Havanna.”