Cigar Industry

Hurricane Strikes Dominican Republic, Damage To Cigar Industry Appears Minimal

Sep 20, 2022 | By David Savona
Hurricane Strikes Dominican Republic, Damage To Cigar Industry Appears Minimal
Photo/MODIS NOAA/NOAA/Alamy Live News

Hurricane Fiona cut across the far eastern portion of the Dominican Republic yesterday, making landfall near Boca de Yuma with winds gusting to more than 100 miles per hour and soaking parts of the island with heavy rain. Areas were flooded and there were reports that more than 1 million Dominicans have been left without access to running water. 

La Romana, located only some 30 miles to the west of where the storm made landfall, is home to Tabacalera de Garcia, one of the world’s largest handmade cigar factories. Owned by Altadis U.S.A. Inc., it makes Montecristo, Romeo y Julieta, Henry Clay and many other cigar brands. “Although the area of La Romana received a lot of wind and rain, the preliminary reports indicate no major damage to the employees or the factory. More will be known today as conditions improve,” said Rafael Nodal, head of product capability for Altadis U.S.A. “In some areas, it has been devastating.”

“The storm hit us harder than we thought but thankfully everyone is safe and there was minimal structural damage. Just a lot of trees down and rain,” said Jason Kycek, vice president at Casa de Campo, the luxurious resort in La Romana. “Cleanup crews have been at it since yesterday and we should be up and running fully by tomorrow.”

The Dominican government declared a state of emergency in much of the east, according to The New York Times, and one death was reported in the country. President Luis Abinader said parts of the country would be declared disaster zones, including the region near the far eastern resort city of Punta Cana. 

In Santiago, where most Dominican cigars are made, the damage and disruption appears to be minimal. The government ordered work to stop yesterday, so cigar factories were closed, such as Ernesto Perez-Carrillo’s Tabacalera La Alianza. “We didn’t work yesterday, but started today and all is well,” he said. “It did a lot of damage in the east.” 

Ciro Cascella of Arturo Fuente said other than “a lot of rain,” things were well in both Santiago, where Fuente makes its cigars, and further south in Bonao, where it grows wrapper tobacco. 

Tobacco grower Siegfried Maruschke, who has his main warehouse in Moca, some 18 miles from Santiago, also reported no damage. It’s still early in the season, and his tobacco is in the seedbed stage. “In the Cibao valley, as of the end of today, although it’s still raining, no tobacco field flooding nor any significant tobacco infrastructure damage was evidenced,” he told Cigar Aficionado. “Apparently, the Cibao Valley was saved by the mountains and by the hurricane path.”

The storm previously ravaged Puerto Rico, bringing more than two feet of rain in some areas and shutting off power to the entire island for a time. Two deaths were reported in Puerto Rico. 

Hurricane Fiona, presently near the Turks and Caicos, is predicted to continue strengthening as it moves north—meteorologists predict it will later turn out toward the sea before making landfall again in far eastern Canada. 

—additional reporting by Gregory Mottola

Read Next: Five Hurricanes That Changed Cigar History

More in Cigar Industry

See all
Fire In The Free Zone: William Ventura Cigar Factory In D.R. Burns Down

Fire In The Free Zone: William Ventura Cigar Factory In D.R. Burns Down

Sirens blared in a Santiago free zone early this morning as firefighters fought a blaze that consumed …

Sep 26, 2022
Ace Prime Gets New Name

Ace Prime Gets New Name

Ace Prime Cigars has changed its name, and is now known as Luciano Cigars.

Sep 19, 2022
Crowned Heads And Ace Prime Part Ways

Crowned Heads And Ace Prime Part Ways

Crowned Heads, the Nashville, Tennessee boutique cigar company, will no longer be distributing …

Sep 16, 2022
J.C. Newman Unveils 116-Year-Old Cuesta-Rey Cigars

J.C. Newman Unveils 116-Year-Old Cuesta-Rey Cigars

J.C. Newman recently acquired a box of 100 perfectly pristine Cuesta-Rey cigars from 1906. 

Sep 16, 2022
Hamlet Paredes Departs Rocky Patel

Hamlet Paredes Departs Rocky Patel

After seven years with Rocky Patel Premium Cigar Co., Hamlet Paredes has left the company to work as …

Sep 12, 2022
ProCigar Celebrates 30 Years

ProCigar Celebrates 30 Years

ProCigar turned 30 this year and it celebrated the milestone last week with a luncheon held in …

Sep 6, 2022