HAVANA – The Cuban government will offer subsidies and loans to help islanders rebuild the more than 200,000 homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy, official newspapers said Thursday.
Beginning next week Cubans affected by Sandy can buy building materials at half-price, according to an official notice published by the Communist party daily Granma and other papers.
Residents of the eastern provinces of Guantanamo, Holguin and Santiago can also seek bank credits to rebuild, and those who lack sufficient income can apply for further subsidies up to the entire cost of the materials.
"The government made the decision for the budget of the State to establish a subsidy of 50 percent of the current prices for construction materials that will be sold to families whose homes were totally or partially destroyed," the notice read.
Sandy hit the island near the eastern city of Santiago on Oct. 25 as a category 2 hurricane, killing 11 people, crumbling homes, tearing off rooftops, toppling utility poles and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of people.
There has been no concrete figure on economic losses, but officials have said 226,000 homes were damaged and have talked about multimillion-dollar hits to crops, industry, hospitals and schools.
Earlier this week the U.N.'s World Food Program said Sandy could be the most devastating storm to hit that part of Cuba in at least a half-century, and announced a food aid program to provide a month's worth of rations to 500,000 people.