In October 2012, the category three Hurricane Sandy hit Santiago de Cuba province hard, tearing through the coastal Gran Parque Natural de Baconao before wreaking havoc on Santiago city. Some 200,000 homes were damaged and 15,000 people lost their homes entirely; many buildings lost roofs, and the city was also almost entirely denuded of its trees and greenery. Even more tragically, eleven people lost their lives – an unusual occurrence in Cuba, as the government’s hurricane evacuation strategy is heralded the world over for its effectiveness, and fatalities are a rare event.

Immediately after the storm, the army was sent in to start on the clear up of the city. Six months on, though many families in the outskirts were still living in makeshift accommodation, the historic heart of Santiago was more or less back to normal, though many of the colonial-era buildings showed roof, tile and wall damage, and the lack of greenery remained noticeable. Indeed, some residents feel that the hurricane gave the city added impetus to perfect the regeneration of the city centre in time for the 500th anniversary.

//Box end//

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Cuba features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

12 tips for backpacking Cuba

12 tips for backpacking Cuba

Cuba’s captivating, colourful streets and carnaval­ feel make it appealing for travellers year­-round. And, as relations with the US thaw, the country's p…

23 May 2017 • Freya Godfrey insert_drive_file Article
Video: a 1 minute guide to Cuba

Video: a 1 minute guide to Cuba

From the gorgeous countryside of Viñales to the brilliant beaches of Varadero – not to mention the atmospheric, timeworn streets of Havana – Cuba is a begu…

15 Mar 2017 • Rough Guides Editors videocam Video
15 of the most romantic places in Cuba

15 of the most romantic places in Cuba

Cuba and romance go hand-in-hand. The isolated island's whitewashed beaches and balmy climate make for a romantic escape in the traditional sense of the word - …

14 Dec 2016 • Greg Dickinson camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month