Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm on the five-point Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale with winds at times exceeding 180 miles per hour has battered several Caribbean Islands where some Guyanese live, leaving in its wake destruction of epic proportions.
The Islands include Anguilla, Sint Martin, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos and St Kitts and Nevis. Barbuda and Sint Martin were virtually leveled. They were also cut off from the rest of the world due to limited communication.
Irma also ripped through Cuba and Puerto Rico, flooding the streets in Havana and leaving more than one million Puerto Ricans in darkness.
The storm killed dozens of people in the Caribbean and displaced thousands of others. It toppled trees, downed power lines, ripped off roofs and walls from buildings, reduced houses to their foundations and made roads impassable.
While the initial assessment is that the damage is severe and the number of deaths is likely to increase, many on the islands are lucky to be alive. According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC) in Miami, Irma is one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean and one of the five most forceful storms to hit the Caribbean in 82 years.
Stunned and devastated by the wrath of Hurricane Irma, politicians and locals were trying to make sense of the storm. Some of the islands were fortunate to have dodged the full force of Irma, but others including Anguilla, Barbuda, Sint Martin and the Turks and Caicos were not so lucky. The extent of the destruction in these islands is unprecedented.
Barbuda, one of the tiny two-island nations of Antigua which was in the eye of the storm is a scene of total carnage with 95 percent of its buildings destroyed. Aided by fishing boats and private vessels, the residents of Barbuda have been evacuated to the sister island of Antigua.
Experts have opined that Irma’s extreme size is partly the result of climate change which has made the Atlantic waters warmer and thus supplied more energy to power the storm. Irma came just two weeks after hurricane Harvey, a category four storm with sustained winds of 120 miles per hour, pounded the state of Texas. It caused catastrophic flooding and damage to properties and cars in Houston at an estimated cost of $180 billion. Harvey killed at least 60 people, injured more than 500 hundred and displaced roughly one million.
Downgraded from a category 4 storm to an extremely dangerous category 3 storm with winds of 125 miles per hour, Irma, one of the Atlantic Ocean’s largest and fiercest storms slammed into the Florida Keys and the Gulf Coast of Florida leaving destruction in its wake.The monster storm toppled trees and power lines, damaged roofs, knocked out electricity in millions of homes and businesses and flooded the streets of Miami and surrounding areas with storm surges of up to 15 feet.
Its high winds swayed skyscrapers, destroyed boats and toppled construction cranes in Miami. At least ten persons, including two police officers have been reported killed in Florida so far and dozens more are injured. Irma’s wrath has left 10 million in darkness and forced some 6.5 million people, about a third of Florida’s population to evacuate.
The people of the Caribbean are now racing to provide some relief to those affected. Guyana is reporting that many of its nationals have been caught up in Irma’s wrath but sadly, even if it brings these people home it simply does not have the resources to provide them with proper accommodation until the situation in their adopted country changes.
And there are still people who say that climate change is a hoax.
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