Hurricane Wilma gives drought-prone Cuba long-awaited rains

Rains associated with Hurricane Wilma benefited drought-prone Cuba, filling water reservoirs to 76 percent capacity, the state-run Trabajadores newspaper reported Monday. The hurricane never made landfall on the island, but rains from its bands pounded both eastern and western Cuba for several days as the storm made its long journey through the Caribbean before shooting across the Florida Straits.

The rains especially helped the eastern provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Guantanamo and Granma, which have suffered a severe drought in recent years. The western province of Pinar del Rio was the most drenched, with the region recording its rainiest October since 1964, officials said.

Conversely, the rains have been too much for the island's coffee crop. Recent storms caused many coffee beans to ripen too quickly, prompting workers to scramble to pick the extra beans before they go bad, according to the AP.

Students and teachers have been sent to help in Maisi and Yateras, the principal coffee-growing regions of Guantanamo province, Trabajadores reported.