Hurricane Irma is a monster of a storm, and it’s catastrophic impacts are already being observed. After carving it’s path through the Caribbean, Irma is projected to strike the Southern Florida coast before continuing inland. Some of the islands impacted thus far include: Barbuda, The Virgin Islands, Anguilla, St. Martin, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti.

Barbuda

The small island that is home to around 1,400 people took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma on Wednesday. This resulted in the  destruction of a large portion of the island. The Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda stated, “Barbuda is literally rubble. The entire housing stock was damaged. It is just a total devastation.” There is also no water and no communication due to the destruction of the cell towers. Many are also left without power, but those with generators won’t have power for long. Flash flooding from the surge and rain submerged cars and roads. Sustained winds of 185 miles per hour destroyed and damaged many buildings and structures. A few images of just a portion of the destruction on Barbuda are shown below:

 

Aftermath of Irma: Flooding and Damage/Destruction of Buildings

 

Damage and flooding seen throughout Barbuda

 

Cell tower down in Barbuda, cutting off communication. Photo: ABS

 

There is at least one confirmed fatality, that of a two year old child. Many civilians are left wondering how to survive in the storm’s aftermath. No power, water, or communication makes it difficult to survive. The initial impact of the storm is great, but the lasting effects are just as, if not more severe. Below is a link to a CNN article with civilian accounts of the total destruction of Barbuda:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/06/americas/hurricane-irma-caribbean-islands/index.html

Puerto Rico

Irma has cut-off power for more than 2/3 of the island, which is over 1 million people. 50,000 people are also left without clean water. Public power companies say it could take 4-6 months before power will be restored to the Island. Puerto Rico was luckily spared a direct hit, allowing 40% of hospitals to continue to run on generators. Due to the direct hit to nearby islands, some are seeking treatment in these Puerto Rican hospitals.. Infrastructure issues in Puerto Rico create more issues despite not receiving a direct hit.

Satellite Image of Hurricane Irma as it approaches Puerto Rico

Virgin Islands and Other Caribbean Islands

At least 3 have been confirmed dead in the US Virgin Islands, and several more fatalities have also been confirmed for the British Virgin Islands.

Pleasure craft were crammed against the shore in Paraquita Bay as the eye of Hurricane Irma passed Tortola, British Virgin Islands, on Wednesday. Credit Reuters

The French portion of St. Martin has been declared 95% destroyed by Irma. Below includes an article by the NY Times with more information on each of the impacted islands:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/07/world/americas/hurricane-irma-caribbean-destruction-video-photos.html

Haiti/Dominican Republic

Hurricane Irma is passing to the north of Haiti and the Dominican Republic currently (Thursday evening 9/7/17.) This brings the potential for mudslides and flooding along the northern part of the countries. Flooding and mudslides can be very devastating to these communities.

Future

The future impacts of Hurricane Irma bring continued worries as it approaches the US. Overall we have 12 confirmed deaths so far. Sadly, this number will likely rise as many are left without water, power, communication, and shelter. The National Weather Service has released a statement saying that some locations may be uninhabitable for weeks to months.

It is looking less and less likely for Cuba to experience a direct hit from the storm. This will result in Irma maintaining strength as it approaches the southern coast of Florida. Most projections have Irma still being a category 4 major hurricane as it makes landfall on the southern tip of Florida this weekend. The large populations in Florida, especially along the coast leads to higher risks for loss of life/property. For more information on Irma’s track, follow this link: https://neoweather.us/en/weather-news/breaking/us/major-hurricane-irma-eyes-florida-track-impacts/

After Irma dissipates, the trouble isn’t over as tropical storm Jose is developing into a hurricane. This hurricane may wreak havoc as it hits Caribbean Islands just as Irma did. This time however, many are left homeless and without proper shelter to guard them from the storms.

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About Alex Burton

Alex graduated with a degree in meteorology from Ohio University. He is pursuing internships and other professional volunteer work for a year before continuing his education. Alex has had a fascination with the weather from a young age and has a particular interest in severe weather. He's completed research on the microscale effects on mountains due to weather. He is very interested in space weather.
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