Hurricane Irma damage ‘considerable’

BBC:-Hurricane Irma has caused considerable damage on French island territories in the Caribbean, and casualties are expected, France’s president says.

The impact of Irma on St Martin and St Barts would be “hard and cruel”, Emmanuel Macron added.

Significant damage is also being reported in the Dutch section of Saint Martin.

The category five hurricane, the highest possible level, has sustained wind speeds reaching 295km/h (185mph).

French Overseas Territories Minister Annick Girardin confirmed at least two people had been killed and another two seriously injured in St Martin and St Barts.

Earlier, Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said the hurricane had caused major floors, and destroyed buildings, including four of the “most solid” buildings on St Martin.

The most powerful Atlantic storm in a decade first hit Antigua and Barbuda, before moving on to Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy – the French holiday destination popularly known as St Barts.

Its “extremely dangerous core” is forecast by the US National Hurricane Centerto move over parts of the northern Virgin Islands on Wednesday, passing near or just north of Puerto Rico, then passing near or just north of the coast of the Dominican Republic on Thursday.

Thousands of people have been evacuated from at-risk areas across the Caribbean. Residents have flocked to shops for food, water, and emergency supplies, and airports have closed on several islands which are popular holiday destinations.

In the US, Florida’s Key West area has ordered a mandatory evacuation, with landfall expected at the weekend.

he French government said earlier it was worried about thousands of people who had refused to seek shelter on the islands.

Officials in the nearby French territory of Guadeloupe confirmed the following damage:

  • On St Barts, the fire brigade station has been flooded with a metre of water, with engines out of service and crews sheltering on an upper floor; there is a total power blackout; many roofs have been blown off
  • On Saint Martin, the prefecture building has been partially destroyed, with the prefect (chief officer) and 23 other people sheltering in a secure room; the fire station is out of order; there is a power blackout; several roofs at the police station have been blown off

In the Dutch territory, known as Sint Maarten, the airport has been closed with photos showing debris strewn across the departures area and outside.

There has been a total power blackout, streets are littered with debris, cars are underwater and boats in the ports have been destroyed, Dutch broadcaster NOS reports (in Dutch).

France’s interior minister said three emergency teams were being sent to the islands, two from France and one from Guadeloupe.

Islands in Irma’s immediate path

Antigua and Barbuda

  • Population: 90,800
  • Key facts: one of the Caribbean’s most prosperous nations, thanks to its tourism industry and offshore financial services
  • Hurricane report: Antigua has reportedly escaped major damage, with no loss of life, but the situation on Barbuda is unclear

St Martin

  • Population: 75,000
  • Key facts: tourist destination celebrated for its beaches; divided between France, which calls its section Saint Martin, and the Netherlands, which calls its part Sint-Maarten
  • Hurricane report: serious damage to buildings, flooding, power cuts

St Barts (Saint Barthélemy)

  • Population: 9,200
  • Key facts: luxury tourist destination
  • Hurricane report: serious damage to buildings, flooding, power cuts

Turks and Caicos

  • Population: 31,500
  • Key facts: enjoys one of the more dynamic economies in the region thanks to upmarket tourism, offshore finance and fishing
  • Hurricane report: the low-lying region is at risk of a storm surge with destructive waves up to 6m (20ft) higher than usual possible

British Virgin Islands

  • Population: 20,600
  • Key facts: more than 40 islands and islets
  • Hurricane report: Irma is expected to pass over the northern islands

Puerto Rico

  • Population: 3.7 million
  • Key facts: a tourist destination but plagued by debt, poverty and high unemployment
  • Hurricane report: Irma expected to pass close by

Dominican Republic

  • Population: 10.2 million
  • Key facts: major tourist destination, shares island of Hispaniola with Haiti
  • Hurricane report: Irma expected to pass close by

Some islands in the region are almost at sea level and any significant storm surges would be potentially deadly, the BBC’s Will Grant reports from Havana.

Antigua escaped major damage, with no loss of life, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said on Facebook, but the situation on Barbuda is unclear.

“We really don’t know what’s happening,” Antigua radio journalist Gemma Handy told the BBC.

“We’re trying to be positive, but nobody’s really going to relax over here. It’s a very close-knit community of just 90,000 people. Most people live here on Antigua, there’s about 2,000 on Barbuda, so lots of people right now are waiting very anxiously for word from their relatives over there.”


  1. Anonymous
    September 8, 2017 at 11:10 am

    I wonder what our key facts would of been

  2. Cheryl Gomes
    September 8, 2017 at 11:36 am

    is there anyone out there that can tell me if cell phone service has been restored? I have people on the island that I haven’t heard from and want to know if they are ok. Also are flights going out of the airport back to the United State? Just trying to get some info .

    1. Mary
      September 8, 2017 at 12:06 pm

      Cheryl, I am hearing if an app named “Zello” is downloaded, you can contact loved ones with it. Even if services are down.

      Prayers for all.

      1. Christina Dixon
        September 12, 2017 at 7:23 pm

        Here in Texas we used that Zello app to coordinate efforts for rescue and relief among regular civilians. This is how many boats knew where to go. Type the areas name and search and rescue in the search bar under add channel tab.

    2. Lisamary
      September 14, 2017 at 1:55 pm

      There isn’t much service, unless you have whatsapp and even at that it’s luck. Many are being ask to volunteery go back to their country as the shelter is so over crowded. I say before you go back home, ask families and friends in the U S to put you up and see what you can do from there.

  3. Lisamary
    September 14, 2017 at 1:47 pm

    Many people is being asked to volunteery return to their home country. I believe before people do this they should find a friend or someone in the state that can put them up for a few. It will be okay to come home ,but there is no guarantee that you will be able to go back up with immigration becoming difficult. Many many lost everything, their homes and jobs, but there are few who still have jobs; to leave that jobs means you give it up. Many are without jobs and don’t matter as good of an employee you think you is, no company is going to hold the job for you, when many are in need. So if you can fine shelter in the state you should and better chance of finding a job

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