Irma’s destruction: island by island

The category five hurricane has ripped through the Caribbean, leaving flattened landscapes, flash flood and loss of life

Antigua and Barbuda

Barbuda, the first island to feel the force of Hurricane Irma was devastated by its high winds, with Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, saying 90% of houses had been destroyed and 50% of the people of around 1,000 people left homeless.

One person- a two-year-old child- is confirmed to have died in the storm. Michael Joseph, president of the Red Cross in Antigua and Barbuda told 😛 TAGEND

The devastation is not like we’ve ever seen before- we’re talking about the whole country … of Barbuda being significantly destroyed.

Critical facilities including roads and communications systems were ravaged, with the recovery endeavor set to take months or years. Some residents are expected to be evacuated to the larger sister island of Antigua- where injury was less severe- as part of relief efforts and ahead of the prospective arrival of Hurricane Jose this weekend.

Browne said he would order the evacuation of Barbuda if forecasters predict that Jose will hit the island in the coming days.

Barbuda suffers’ unprecedented’ injury from Irma
Map

Anguilla

One person died in the British overseas territory, told Ronald Jackson, executive director of the Caribbean disaster and emergency management agency, who added that” police station, hospitals, school facilities, three or four emergency shelters, a home for the infirm and the aged, as well as the fire station”, along with many homes, had been damaged or destroyed.

UK foreign office minister Alan Duncan said:” The initial assessment is that the damage has been severe and in places critical .”

The tourist board told major resorts on the island had withstood the onslaught. The airport and two ports remain closed.

The British government has been accused of a failure to respond rapidly to the devastation. On Thursday, it announced an extra PS32m in aid and will send hundreds of marines and royal engineers, as well as HMS Ocean, currently deployed in the Mediterranean, which will take 10 to 14 days to reach the area.

St Kitts& Nevis

Prime minister Timothy Harris said St Kitts was ” spared the full brunt” of Irma, but warned of “significant damage” to property and infrastructure, as well as power failings. The airport reopened on Thursday. A hurricane warning and flash-flooding watch have been discontinued, and residents and visitors given the all-clear.

St Martin and St Barts

The French part of the island( the southern side, St Maarten, is administered by the Netherlands) was ” 95% destroyed “, according to Daniel Gibb, a local officer, who called it” an enormous misfortune “:

I have sick people to evacuate, I have a population to evacuate because I don’t know where I can shelter them.

Four people were killed in St Martin, according to French “ministers ” Edouard Philippe, who said 50 were injured during across the island and another French overseas collectivity, Saint Barthelemy( St Barts ). Power was cut across the island and many roads are impassable.

The number of victims on the Dutch half of the island, St Maarten, is unknown. Netherlands prime minister Mark Rutte says there has been” enormous material damage” to St Maarten, and has sent marines and two assistance flights.

The French president, Emmanuel Macron, earlier said he expected Irma-related damage caused to St Martin and St Barts would be ” considerable “. France’s overseas minister, Annick Girardin, travelled to the Caribbean with emergency squads and supplies.

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Storm Irma makes Saint Martin island- video

Virgin Islands

Significant damage has been reported from the British Virgin Islands, where critical facilities, as well as homes, businesses and supermarkets, have been devastated.

UK foreign minister Alan Duncan told:” The British Virgin Islands were also not spared the hurricane’s full force. Our initial appraisal is of severe damage and we expect that the islands will need extensive humanitarian assistance which we will of course provide .”

Sam Branson, son of Virgin tycoon Richard Branson- who insured out the blizzard in a bunker on his private island of Necker- said” a lot of buildings” had been destroyed.

Four people are confirmed to have died in the US Virgin Islands, with a government spokesman predicting the toll would rise. US president Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency and a major calamity. There were reports of extensive damage to buildings, and of land solely stripped of vegetation.

Many roads are inaccessible in the USVI, and schools are reported to be destroyed.

Puerto Rico

Lashing breezes and rainfalls have left more than a million people without power and tens of thousands without water. Images from the island demonstrated flash flooding, and hospitals were forced to rely on generators.

Three people- two women and a man- have been confirmed dead, and rescuers are searching for the missing. Waves of up to 30 feet( 9 metres) were reported. Several thousand people remain in emergency shelters.

Governor Ricardo Rossello has also proclaimed a disaster in the tiny islands of Culebra and Vieques, to Puerto Rico’s east, which were hard-hit by the cyclone. So far there has been little information from the islands.

Irma is the worst hurricane to reach the island since 1928, when Hurricane San Felipe killed more than 2,700 people across Puerto Rico, Guadeloupe and Florida.

Dominican Republic

Pictures from the Dominican Republic– where Irma passed to the north- prove widespread injury: flattened buildings, downed trees and power lines. The coastal resorts of Cabarete and Sosua were reported to have insured blizzard surges, and more than 5,000 people were evacuated across the country.

On Thursday, Juan Manuel Mendez, director of the centre of emergency operations, told people there should” not let down their guard … the worst isn’t over “.

Haiti

Irma continued its path across the north of Hispaniola- the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti- taking down a key bridge between the two. Heavy rains flailed the north coast and several areas lost power.

Two people were reportedly injured in the northern port town of Cap-Haitien when a tree crashed into their home.

Officials had admitted they were not prepared for the onslaught and no mandatory evacuation orders were in place ahead of Irma’s approach. But reports from Cap-Haitien so far suggest Haiti has been spared the worst effects of the category 5.

Turks and Caicos

Irma was ” pummelling” the British overseas territory on Thursday evening, the US National Hurricane Center told, with gales of 175 mph( 280 kmh ).

Governor John Freeman said some people had been moved to shelters ahead of the hurricane’s arrival, but warned others to 😛 TAGEND

Hunker down, stay where you are … Nobody can get to you either- people are, for a little while, on their own.

Electricity supplyings had failed on Grand Turk, which meant water production was also out, Freeman said.

Bahamas

Overnight on Thursday, the eye of the blizzard moved on to the southern Bahamas , passing only north of Great Inagua island. The US National Hurricane Center warned that cyclone surges could lift water levels in south-eastern and central Bahamas by 15 -2 0ft( 4.5 -6m) above normal levels.

Bahamas prime minister Hubert Minnis said his government had evacuated people from six islands in the south to the capital, Nassau, in the largest storm evacuation in the country’s history. Airports have been closed.

Where next?

A hurricane warning comes into force in Cuba , where tourists are being evacuated and residents of coastal townships told to move inland.

By late Saturday, Irma is forecast to hit Florida , where mandatory evacuation orders have already been issued for Florida Keys and swaths of southern and coastal Florida. All hospitals in the Florida Keys archipelago will close at 7am Friday, and coast guard and rescue services have left.

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Irma becomes most powerful hurricane ever recorded in Atlantic

Leeward Islands of Antigua and Barbuda braced for category 5 cyclone, which then heads for Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and Florida

The most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history bear down on the islands of the north-east Caribbean on Tuesday night local period, following a path predicted to then rake Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before perhaps heading for Florida over the weekend.

At the far north-eastern edge of the Caribbean, authorities on the Leeward Islands of Antigua and Barbuda cut power and exhorted residents to shelter indoors as they braced for Hurricane Irma’s first contact with land early on Wednesday.

Officials warned people to attempt protection from Irma’s ” onslaught ” in a statement that closed with:” May God protect us all .”

The category 5 storm had maximum sustained winds of 185mph( 295 kph) by early Tuesday evening, according to the US National Hurricane Center( NHC) in Miami.

irma route

Category 5 hurricanes are rare and are capable of inflicting life-threatening gusts, blizzard upsurges and rainfall. Hurricane Harvey, which last week devastated Houston, was category 4.

” I hear it’s a Cat 5 now and I’m frightened ,” Antigua resident Carol Joseph said as she finished her last trip to the supermarket before seeking shelter.” I had to come back for more batteries because I don’t know how long the present will be off .”

Other islands in the path of the storm included the US and British Virgin Islands and Anguilla, a small, low-lying British island province of about 15,000 people.

US president Donald Trump declared emergencies in Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Warm water is gasoline for hurricanes and Irma is over water that is one degree celsius( 1.8 F) warmer than normal. The 26 C( 79 F) water that hurricanes need runs about 250 feet deep (8 0m ), told Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private forecasting service Weather Underground.

Four other cyclones have had gales as strong in the overall Atlantic region but they were in the Caribbean Sea or the Gulf of Mexico, which typically home to warmer waters that fuel tornadoes. Hurricane Allen reached 190 mph in 1980, while 2005′ s Wilma, 1988′ s Gilbert and a 1935 great Florida Key storm all had 185 mph winds.

The storm’s eye was expected to pass about 50 miles (8 0km) from Puerto Rico late on Wednesday. Hurricane-force winds extended outward up to 60 miles( 95 km) from Irma’s centre and tropical storm-force winds extended outward up to 175 miles( 280 km ).

In
In this GOES-East satellite image Hurricane Irma, a potentially catastrophic category 5 hurricane, moves westward in the Atlantic Ocean. Photograph: AP

The northern Leeward Islands were expected to see waves as high as 11 feet( 3.3 metres ), while the Turks and Caicos Islands and south-eastern Bahamas could see towering 20 -foot( six-metre) waves subsequently in the week, forecasters said.

Irma is expected to dump up to 18 inches( 45 cm) of rain in some areas when it hits land.

” These rainfall amounts may cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides ,” the NHC warned, calling the blizzard “potentially catastrophic” and exhorting that” preparations should be rushed to finish” in the region.

Schools and government offices in French overseas province Guadeloupe have been ordered closeds, while hospitals are stocking up on medications, food and drinking water. People living on shorelines will be moved to security, authorities said.

The popular holiday destinations of Saint Barthelemy and St Maarten- a French province and a French-Dutch split island respectively- are expected to be especially hard hit. The Dutch defense minister said soldiers arrived in the Dutch part of St Maarten on Monday and two ships, including one equipped with a helicopter, are already in place to help.

Officials had on Monday ordered the evacuation of 11, 000 people living in affected areas on both islands, which began in many neighbourhoods on Tuesday.

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Hurricane Irma: fly through the heart of the blizzard – video

” This is not an opportunity to go outside and try to have fun with a hurricane ,” US Virgin Islands governor Kenneth Mapp alerted.” It’s not time to get on a surfboard .”

The National Weather Service told Puerto Rico had not considered a hurricane of Irma’s magnitude since Hurricane San Felipe in 1928, which killed a total of 2,748 people in Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and Florida.

” The dangerousness of this event is like nothing we’ve ever seen ,” Puerto Rico governor Ricardo Rossello told.” A lot of infrastructure won’t be able to withstand this kind of force .”

The director of the island’s power company has warned that blizzard damage could leave some areas without electricity for about a week and others for four to six months. The utility’s infrastructure has deteriorated greatly during a decade-long recession, and Puerto Ricans experienced an island-wide outage last year.

Government officials began evacuations and urged people to finalise all preparations as store shelves emptied out around Puerto Rico.

” The decisions that we make in the next couple of hours can induce discrepancies between life and death ,” Rossello told.” This is an extremely dangerous storm .”

No immediately storm-related demises were reported by Tuesday evening but a 75 -year-old man died in the central Puerto Rico mountain town of Orocovis after he fell from a ladder while preparing for the hurricane, police said.

The eye of the cyclone was expected to roar west on a path taking it north of millions of people around Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba, but meteorologists warned that it could still cause life-threatening blizzard upsurges, rainfalls and mudslides.

The northern parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti could see 10 inches( 25 cm) of rainfall, with as much as 20 inches in the south-east Bahamas and Turks and Caicos.

The storm seemed almost certain to make the United States by early next week.

” You’d be hard pressed to find any model that doesn’t have some impact on Florida ,” told University of Miami senior hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy.

In Florida, people also stocked up on drinking water and other supplies.

Governor Rick Scott activated 100 members of the Florida National Guard to be deployed across the country, and 7,000 National Guard members were to report for duty on Friday when the cyclone could be approaching the region. On Monday, Scott declared a emergency situations in all of Florida’s 67 counties.

Officials in the Florida Keys geared up to get tourists and residents out of Irma’s path, and the mayor of Miami-Dade county said people should be prepared to evacuate Miami Beach and most of the county’s coastal areas.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez said the voluntary evacuations could begin as soon as Wednesday evening. He activated the emergency operation centre and advised residents to have three days’ worth of food and water.

A new tropical storm also formed in the Atlantic on Tuesday, to the east of Irma. The hurricane centre told Tropical Storm Jose was about 1,400 miles( 2,255 km) east of the Lesser Antilles with maximum sustained breezes of 45mph( 75 kph ). It was moving west-northwest at 12 mph( 19 kph) and was expected to become a hurricane by Friday.

Meanwhile, a tropical depression formed in the south-western Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Mexico. The hurricane centre said the system could become a tropical storm while meandering in the Gulf for several days before constructing landfall in Mexico on Saturday.

Associated Press and Agence France-Presse contributed to this report .

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