Cuba working to restore power after Hurricane Ian causes national blackout

(NEW YORK) — Work is underway to restore power to Cuba, after Hurricane Ian knocked out electricity to the entire island.

Ian made landfall as a Category 3 storm on Tuesday, hitting the island’s western end. Tuesday night, Cuban state media reported that there was no power on the island.

The Electrical Union of Cuba said Tuesday that there was no electricity being generated due to weather impacts, and that power would be gradually restored.

Through generators, electrical service has since returned to some customers in about a dozen provinces, primarily in the central and eastern regions of the country, the Electrical Union of Cuba said Wednesday. The company said it is working to connect the national electricity system.

The western provinces were especially hard-hit by the hurricane, which made landfall over western Cuba early on Tuesday morning with winds estimated at a maximum of 125 mph.

The center of Ian made landfall just southwest of the town of La Coloma in the Pinar Del Rio province of Cuba at 4:30 a.m, the National Hurricane Center said. The province — known for its tobacco fields, an important agricultural industry — was devastated by the storm. The hurricane also caused significant damage to homes, the electrical system and other infrastructure.

At least two people were killed in the Pinar Del Rio province, according to state media, including a woman killed by a falling wall and another by a collapsed roof.

Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel visited Pinar Del Rio on Tuesday to survey the damage, which he said was “great” but not yet possible to fully assess. He visited again on Wednesday amid the recovery.

The Cuban government discontinued all tropical storm warnings for the country on Wednesday, though impacts could still be felt.

Swells generated by Ian are affecting the northern coast of Cuba and “are likely to cause life-threatening surf and rip current conditions,” the National Hurricane Center said Wednesday.

Since passing Cuba, the storm has strengthened and is bearing down on Florida as a powerful Category 4 hurricane. It is expected to make landfall along Florida’s Gulf Coast Wednesday afternoon. Over 450,000 Florida customers are without power as Ian nears.

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