Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, smashed into the Caribbean on Wednesday, flattening islands and leaving vacation hotspots as disaster zones.
The storm, which slowed to a category 4 storm on Friday, is expected to hit the north coast of Cuba and the Bahamas in “the next day or so” as it leaves the Turks and Caicos islands, the National Hurricane Center said in an alert on Friday morning. The hurricane is expected to be near the Florida Keys and the southern Florida Peninsula on Sunday morning.
The Red Cross says an estimated 1.2 million people have been affected by the hurricane and that number could rise to 26 million.
Here are the islands so far affected by the devastating hurricane:
Antigua and Barbuda
This sovereign nation of two islands was the first to be hit by Hurricane Irma on Wednesday. Barbuda, the less populated, was by far the worst hit. The storm, which packed winds of up to 185 miles an hour, destroyed 95% of the buildings and left half of Barbuda’s population, of around 1,400, homeless, Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne told the BBC. At least one person, a two-year-old child, is confirmed to have died in the storm and it will cost an estimated $100 million to rebuild the island.
“I would have cried because that (devastation) was so heart wrenching. I couldn’t believe it,” Browne told ABC News. “It’s one of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt in my entire life.”
Antigua, with a population of nearly 1 million, experienced no loss of life and escaped major damage said the president.
Irma crashed into Saint Martin around six hours after striking Antigua and Barbuda, wrecking homes, flinging cars and uprooting trees as it whipped through the territory. The island is split into two parts, which are overseen by the French and Dutch governments, and has a total population of around 80,000.
At least eight bodies have been counted in the French side, in the north. “It’s an enormous catastrophe. Ninety-five percent of the island is destroyed,” Daniel Gibbs, the president of the territorial council, said in a radio interview according to AFP. “I’m in shock. It’s frightening,” he said. U.S. President Donald Trump owns a 11-bedroom beachfront property on the Caribbean island, the Washington Post reports. But the status of the property is not known.
French President Emmanuel Macron plans on visiting the island as soon as the weather allows it.
The southern side, Sint Maarten, which is part of the Netherlands, has suffered “enormous devastation” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte told Reuters on Thursday. The number of victims on that side of the island is unknown. Rutte says he has sent sent marines and two aid flights.
Floodwaters were the biggest problem for the French island, also known as St. Barts, as well as blackouts. But there have been no reports of major damage.
The British overseas territory of Anguilla sustained “the full blast” of the hurricane, U.K. Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan said according to the BBC. One person has died according to local officials while Ronald Jackson, executive director of the Caribbean disaster and emergency management agency, told the Guardian that “police stations, hospitals, school facilities, three or four emergency shelters, a home for the infirm and the aged, as well as the fire station,” as well as numerous homes have been destroyed and damaged.
The British government’s response to Anguilla has prompted anger, the Guardian reports. Former Anguillan official, Dorothea Hodge, told the British newspaper that officials failed to set up an emergency fund or reconstruction plan for its Caribbean territories. The British government have announced more than $35 million in aid and is sending hundreds of engineers and marines to the territory.
Saint Kitts and Nevis
The dual-island nation’s Prime Minister Timothy Harris said on Wednesday that both Saint Kitts and Nevis were “spared the ravages of what could have been total devastation. He warned that there was “significant” damage to some properties. The airport on the sovereign nation reopened on Thursday.
The popular tourist destination of the British and U.S. Virgin Islands were next in the hurricane’s path.
Four people are confirmed to have died in the U.S. Virgin Islands of St. Thomas and St. John. According to the Guardian, a government spokesman predicts a rising death toll, while Trump declared a state of emergency and a major disaster. Roads are reportedly inaccessible, school were destroyed and land has been stripped of vegetation.
The U.S. territory had sustained “significant devastation” Gov. Kenneth Mapp said in a statement seen by NPR on Thursday. “Sustained winds of 150 mph, gusts higher than that, for three or four hours is devastating,” he said.
Significant damage has been reported in the British Virgin Islands. Important facilities, like homes, businesses and supermarkets, have been destroyed.
“The British Virgin Islands were also not spared the hurricane’s full force. Our initial assessment is of severe damage and we expect that the islands will need extensive humanitarian assistance which we will of course provide” U.K. Foreign Minister Duncan said in a statement.
Billionaire owner of Virgin Airlines, Richard Branson, said in a blog post on Thursday that his private island, Necker, was “completely and utterly devastated” by Hurricane Irma. “It is a traumatic time here in the British Virgin Islands,” Richard said. “I have never seen anything like this hurricane.”
Irma passed just north of Puerto Rico. While the U.S. territory was spared a full-on hit from the storm, strong winds and rains have left more than a million without power. “It will be difficult to estimate how long the power outage will last,” Puerto Rican Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Thursday. More than 50,000 are without drinking water. Irma is the worst hurricane to hit the island since 1928.
The storm grazed the north part of the Dominican Republic, which is on an island shared with Haiti. Pictures from the island showed downed power lines, flattened trees and buildings. More than 5,000 have been evacuated from the country and on Thursday Juan Manuel Mendez, director of the centre of emergency operations, said locals should “not let down their guard” as the worst wasn’t over.
The storm took out a key bridge between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Heavy rains pummelled Haiti’s north coast, causing power loss in several areas. Evacuations were ordered along the northern coastline of the country, including Tortuga island, but it is unknown how many people listened to the advice. Two people were injured by a falling tree but there were no reports of deaths as of Thursday evening.
Reports suggest the country has been spared the worst effects of the category 5 storm, but aid groups told TIME that they are waiting for day-break on Friday to assess the damage in Haiti’s northern areas.
Turks and Caicos
The British overseas territory, made up for 40 coral islands, was hit by the storm on Friday morning, after bracing for winds up to 174mph and waves of up to 20ft high. The extent of destruction on the low-lying archipelago is still unknown.
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