HAVANA.- Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel held a video conference on Tuesday with authorities of the Government and the Party of the central Cuban provinces, significantly affected by the heavy rains and floods caused by the subtropical storm Alberto.

Several ministers participated in the meeting to report on preliminary information on the damages caused by the floods, which cannot be determined with complete accuracy until water levels drop.

The Minister of Energy and Mines, Alfredo Lopez Valdes, reported that about 58,000 consumers were currently without electricity service, for which 60 cars with the corresponding equipment were working since dawn and another group is ready to restore power as soon as they can access the isolated places.

According to him, all the material and human resources are available for this.

On the distribution of the basic food basket, the Minister of Domestic Trade, Mary Blanca Ortega Barredo, said that they have been delivering the standardized products, starting with the most intricate municipalities, and it was indicated to bring forward their sale to the population.

There is also some damage to the infrastructure of warehouses, cafeterias and other commercial premises.

The effects on agriculture are concentrated in products such as bananas, beans, rice, tobacco, vegetables, as well as in some irrigation systems and in the collection of milk, which is kept interrupted by the bad weather.

The First Vice-Minister of Agriculture, Julio García Pérez, assured that everything ready for harvest is collected and that the ripe rice in the fields is kept under surveillance, and said that there are enough seeds and fertilizers to begin the recovery.

Rene Mesa Villafaña, the Minister of Construction, reported that several bridges and roads have been damaged by flooding and rivers that burst their banks. To this end, teams of engineers and architects were recruited to work with the Ministry of Transport to calculate the impact on the structures and the measures to be taken, both in the short and long term.

Adel Yzquierdo Rodriguez, Minister of Transport, said that, in addition to the temporary closure of the national highway, the damage included the obstruction of several points of the central railway line due to the flooding, as well as the suspension of the exits programmed by the National Bus Company that had planned to run through Cienfuegos, Villa Clara and Sancti Spíritus on its route.

 The president of the Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH), Inés María Chapman, updated on the situation of the country's reservoirs, 141 of which are over 90% full and all those in the central region discharge excess.

She warned that, even as rains are decreasing, significant runoff from the mountains is expected, and hydrological monitoring must be maintained. In particular, she warned about the rainy season, which is just beginning with almost all the dams full, a challenge for which we must prepare ourselves well.

The president of INRH emphasized the need to chlorinate all the water that the population of these territories is consuming in order not to affect their health.

The vitality of the health system was confirmed by the minister of the sector, Roberto Morales Ojeda, who commented that, in spite of occasional affectations, the service has been maintained in these provinces. In particular, he mentioned the situation with the severely damaged 9 de Abril hospital in Sagua la Grande, where care had to be reorganized.

He warned about the epidemiological control measures that must be strengthened to maintain the health stability that has been achieved in the country to date.

The head of Education, Ena Elsa Velázquez Cobiella, explained the situation of the school system, where around 50 schools have been affected and 54 others received evacuees.

In the five central provinces, the school year was stopped, but work was done quickly to resume it in the shortest time possible with various alternatives.

The forces of the Ministry of the Interior are mobilized in the affected territories and their work has been directed, above all, at regulating traffic on damaged roads and protecting the belongings of evacuees.

Minister Vice Admiral Julio César Gésar Gandarilla pointed out that action is being taken on the indiscipline committed, mainly due to the low perception of risk among some people.

Meanwhile, the Revolutionary Armed Forces, as usual, have joined in the evacuation of those who have been isolated in certain areas.

 The videoconference provided first-hand detailed and updated information on each of the territories, some of which are still under the effects of the rains.

Among other aspects, it was learned, for example, that in the province of Matanzas the dams were 70% full; more than 6,000 people were evacuated and there is preliminary damage to 54 homes and around 1,700 hectares of crops.

From the province of Cienfuegos, which is in the alarm phase, the rainfall situation was described as complex, with 22 flooded areas and 19 localities cut off from each other. There, too, all measures were taken to protect the population.

From Villa Clara it was known that its reservoirs were over 99% full; 35 communities were isolated; more than 21,000 people had been protected; and the greatest attention was then paid to the community of El Santo, at Encrucijada, due to the danger of flooding.

In Sancti Spíritus there was also a tense scenario, with nine dams relieving and constant monitoring of the Zaza, which had accumulated 1,174 million cubic meters, a level that had fallen in the last few hours. Some 15,000 people were evacuated and 78 communities were still isolated.

From Ciego de Ávila, it was reported that the greatest affectations are in the towns of Majagua, Florencia, Chambas and Morón. All the reservoirs in the province were relieving and about 500 people were evacuated. The situation in this territory became even more complex with the occurrence of tornadoes, which caused damage to several houses.

Faced with this situation, the Cuban President said that when the weather begins to improve, we must focus on recovering damage, first and foremost by restoring basic services such as water, electricity, transportation and food sales.

We have to make a proper assessment of the effects and resume the work experiences implemented with Hurricane Irma, as is the case of the mixed brigades and the centralization of procedures in one place so that the population can speed up the recovery of their homes, he said.

Diaz-Canel also said that the evacuees must be sure to return to their places of origin, whenever possible, or else look for other alternatives to keep the schools busy and that the course can be restarted in less time.

He stressed that the vandalism that could occur in this highly sensitive situation must be resolutely confronted and gave an example by fighting the speculators who are taking advantage of these times to raise prices for the population.

According to him, the Ministry of Economy and Planning is working on the evaluation of the resources needed to face the recovery and that these be brought to the territories in the shortest possible time.

He announced that in the coming hours three working groups will leave for the affected provinces, led by the first vice-president of the Councils of State and Ministers, Salvador Valdés Mesa; the second secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, José Ramón Machado Ventura; and the Commander of the Revolution, Ramiro Valdés Menéndez. The first two groups will be in the central region of the country and the third in the western region.

The Cuban President assured that, as on other occasions, the country will emerge victorious from this difficult situation, which proves once again the capacity of Cubans to react and respond to extreme events of this type, which, as a result of climate change, are becoming more frequent and intense.