‘We Already Have So Little’: Hurricane Ian Strikes Cuba With 125+ MPH Winds

Hurricane Ian tore into western Cuba on Tuesday as a major hurricane, with nothing to stop it from intensifying into a catastrophic Category 4 storm before it hits Florida, where officials ordered 2.5 million people to evacuate before it crashes ashore Wednesday.

Ian made landfall at 4:30 a.m. EDT Tuesday in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province, where officials set up 55 shelters, evacuated 50,000 people, rushed in emergency personnel and took steps to protect crops in Cuba’s main tobacco-growing region.

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People observe a flooded street in Consolacion del Sur, Cuba, on September 27, 2022, during the passage of hurricane Ian. – Hurricane Ian made landfall in western Cuba early Tuesday, with the storm prompting mass evacuations and fears it will bring widespread destruction as it heads for the US state of Florida. (Photo by ADALBERTO ROQUE / AFP) (Photo by ADALBERTO ROQUE/AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. National Hurricane Center said “significant wind and storm surge impacts” were occurring Tuesday morning in western Cuba. Ian’s sustained top winds were 125 mph (205 kmh) and as much as 14 feet (4.3 meters) of storm surge was predicted along Cuba’s coast.

Ian was forecast to strengthen even more over warm Gulf of Mexico waters, reaching top winds of 140 mph (225 kmh) as it approaches the Florida’s southwest coast. Tropical storm-force winds were expected across the southern peninsula late Tuesday, reaching hurricane force Wednesday morning.

While Ian’s center passed over western Cuba, with tropical storm force winds extending outward 115 miles (185 kilometers), Cuba’s capital was getting rain and strong gusts Tuesday morning. Havana’s residents openly worried about flooding ahead of the storm, with workers unclogging storm drains and fishermen taking their boats out of the water.

“I am very scared because my house gets completely flooded, with water up to here,” Adyz Ladron said, pointing to his chest.

In Havana’s El Fanguito, a poor neighborhood near the Almendares River, residents packed up what they could.

“I hope we escape this one because it would be the end of us. We already have so little,” health worker Abel Rodrigues said.