Hurricane Irma devastates Caribbean

Hurricane Irma, a category five storm right on the heels of Hurricane Harvey, hit the Caribbean two weeks ago. The storm, boasting 185 mph winds, left many islands and about 1.2 million people battered. Most of the islands were impacted, but Barbuda, Anguilla and Saint Martin suffered the most damage.

What was damaged?

  • Throughout the Caribbean, 44 people lost their lives due to the hurricane and its effects.
  • 99 percent of structures on most islands were damaged
  • According to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (UNOCHA), 99 percent of buildings on Barbuda alone are completely destroyed
  • Most islands have no electricity or running water.
  • Cuba’s agricultural fields/storage have been damaged by flooding.
  • In Anguilla, 90 percent of government buildings and 80-90 percent of schools report damage.
  • Hospitals on many islands run with limited supplies and options, often working without electricity or running water.
  • Citizens of Barbuda, have been relocated to Antigua, a sister island, leaving Barbuda almost completely uninhabited for the first time in 300 years.
  • Images from NASA satellites highlight the Caribbean islands before and after Irma, providing a view of the mass destruction that is visible from space.

Hurricane Irma from space

A view of Hurricane Irma from The International Space Station as it made landfall in the Caribbean

Posted by CNN on Wednesday, September 6, 2017


What is being done to help?

  • France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands reached out to supply aid, with the UK pledging 75 million US dollars.
  • Both France and the UK deployed troops to converge on the islands and help any citizens in need as well as provide security and protect from looting.
  • President Donald Trump declared disaster in the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, releasing federal funds to be directed at their relief.
  • The Red Cross and UNICEF are at work in the Caribbean providing assistance to those in need.
  • Cuba received aid funding from the Venezuelan government.

What does this mean for the Caribbean going into the future?

  • Each island needs aid in the form of money or physical labor to rebuild both structures and their economies.
  • The UNOCHA estimates $10 million are needed to begin rebuilding the entire region in earnest.
  • Tourism and hospitality, a division that makes up 15 percent of the islands’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP), is set to take a major hit and have a serious impact on the economies.
  • Many luxury hotels that line the beaches have received large amounts of damage that can no longer bring in tourists.
  • Agricultural fields have been damaged, decimating the resources of many of the islands, most predominantly Cuba.
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