UNION CITY, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Before making landfall in Florida Sunday, Hurricane Irma left a trail of destruction across the Caribbean.
In Cuba, recovery efforts were getting under way Sunday, after Irma smashed into the island nation overnight Friday CBS2’s Dave Carlin caught up with some Cuban-Americans in the area who were still waiting for news on their loved ones.
Irma’s fury ripped off roofs and collapsed building after building in Cuba.
There was widespread flooding — not just along the coast where storm surge obliterated seawalls, but also inland.
Pedro Segura’s family moved him from Cuba’s central Villa Clara Province to Union City, New Jersey in 1971 when he was 9 years old.
Many of his relatives who remained there have homes so flooded that they must stay in shelters.
As to where he grew up, Segura said: “It’s underwater. It’s underwater. That’s the middle of Cuba.”
Segura said already he sends money every month to family in Cuba, and now he will send more than the usual amount.
And at churches, including one in Union City, there were extra prayers for all souls taken by the storm and for people left hurt and homeless.
Many members of the Union City congregation have loved ones in Cuba and Florida.
“Everybody came in with sad faces and everything, but we are praying for them,” said church volunteer Marlene Spinella.
Some churches that already had been planning charity efforts for Hurricane Harvey survivors in Houston Now focus on Irma.
“We’re going let the dust settle a bit and the archdiocese, I’m sure, will ask us to donate,” Spinella said.
In Cuban-American owned restaurants, TV screens kept flashing the news with swirling radar images.
Seeing storm coverage left customers like Rosa Endemano awestruck and upset.
“The wind and the rain is a lot,” said Endemano, of Union City.
Endemano has relatives and friends in Cuba and South Florida.
She said because of social media she knows they pulled through the storm with their lives, but now she just begins to see what’s ahead for them — a long, difficult rebuilding.
So far, Cuban officials have not reported any deaths or injuries from the storm.