HAVANA, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- Cuba's President Raul Castro praised the pace of recovery efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irma, state daily Granma reported on Friday.
Huge swaths of Cuba were battered by the category-four hurricane, particularly after storm surge caused severe flooding all along the north-central coast, including capital Havana.
"The people have worked very hard and if any benefit can be obtained from this difficult situation, it is to immediately collect experiences to better prepare for future events of this nature," Castro said during a meeting with his cabinet and other high-level officials Wednesday night.
The meeting was to assess the aftermath and outline what needs to be done during the recovery phase.
About 10 people lost their lives during the natural disaster, a relatively low death toll given the degree of destruction to infrastructure as Irma sideswiped the northern coast last Saturday and Sunday.
More than 20,000 construction workers have been mobilized to collect debris, repair roads, bridges, drains, homes and public buildings.
Castro warned this year's hurricane season, expected to be "intense," was not over until the end of November.
Irma's trajectory through several provinces forced some 1.7 million people to evacuate to higher ground, and about 26,000 remain in temporary shelters, the head of Civil Defense, Gen. Ramon Pardo Guerra, told the meeting.
Alfredo Lopez, Minister of Energy and Mines, said about 90 oil wells along the western and central north coast were damaged by storm surge, but skilled staff were working to repair the structures.
Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero said the sector was working to ensure the industry is ready for the coming high season beginning in early November.