September 7, 2017

Security Message: Havana (Cuba), Hurricane Irma

This message is to inform citizens residing and traveling in Cuba of the approach of Category 5 Hurricane Irma.  Current projections from the National Hurricane Center indicate that Hurricane Irma could begin affecting the eastern provinces of Cuba by Friday morning, September 8 and the remainder of Cuba throughout the weekend of September 9-10.  On Tuesday, September 5, the Cuban National Civil Defense issued an informative note for its 11 eastern provinces (Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Holguin, Las Tunas, Camaguey, Sancti Spiritus, Ciego de Avila, Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, and Matanzas) regarding the potential danger of the hurricane.

Hurricane conditions to include extremely strong winds and heavy rainfall may cause flash flooding, landslides, and storm surge, which may lead to communications and transportation problems.  Emergency and medical care, as well as water and food supplies may also be impacted.  Avoid any unnecessary travel.  Citizens in the path of the storm should monitor local media as well as the National Hurricane Center and the Cuban Meteorological Institute for updates, and follow all instructions from local authorities.  The U.S. Embassy will continue monitoring the situation and issue updated messages as needed.

Given the approaching hurricane, there is limited time available for a safe departure.  Airports will close once conditions deteriorate and safe travel is not possible.  If you do not already have travel arrangements, you should immediately shelter in place in a secure location, preferably on higher ground and away from the coast.

Travelers should apprise family and friends in the United States of their whereabouts, and keep in close contact with their travel agency, hotel staff, and local officials for evacuation instructions.  Travelers should also secure their travel and identity documents (U.S. passport, birth certificate or other picture ID) in a safe waterproof location, as the need to replace lost documentation could hamper or delay return to the United States.

If you should have any questions or concerns, or wish to request an update on a given situation in a foreign country do not hesitate to contact the following:

Rick Phillips                                                   Cody Cobb                                                                                                     (706) 886-9929 = direct                              (706) 225-2526 = direct                                                                                                        (706) 491-9888 = mobile                             (706) 491-5138 = mobile