If you have been following world news you should know by now what happened to some of the Caribbean islands last week. What started out as a simple low pressure system quickly turned into the most devastating hurricane the Atlantic has ever seen. Hurricane Irma was being called a category 5 ++ which is definitely off the Saffir-Simpson scale. Between a category 3 and 5 a hurricane system can be said to be extremely dangerous. Given we are currently in the season for hurricanes we monitored the storms and prayed for a decrease in intensity or shift towards the north.
Thankfully Antigua (where I reside) was spared quite a bit, however on the other hand our sister island Barbuda wasn’t. The eye of hurricane Irma passed directly over the island which is only 62 square miles. With winds over 185 mph and an incredibly low pressure many of the infrastructure on the island was significantly damaged. Sadly, there was one reported fatality which happened to be 2-year-old boy. The island also has a lagoon which houses the Frigate Bird sanctuary which is a popular attraction amongst tourists. Unfortunately the lagoon was breached during the passage of Irma. Assessments will have to be carried out to determine the damaging effects on the island’s wildlife.
After Irma’s destruction there was no communication with the sister isle and officials had to wait hours before they could get a helicopter over to the island. After initial assessments of damage done to the houses and buildings, along with the incoming threat of Hurricane Jose at a Category 4, the decision was made to evacuate the island. In two days with the help of various ferry/boat and helicopter services the island of Barbuda was completely evacuated and deemed inhabitable.
Currently more than 1500 Barbudans are being housed in shelters on the mainland of Antigua. In efforts to rebuild the island and provide supplies for the individuals, several donation sites have been developed; check them out if you’d like to help in any way. There are monetary efforts as well as drop off sites in many different locations.
Please note, Irma did not stop at Barbuda she continued to cause destruction on other islands including St Martin/St Maarten, Anguilla, St Thomas, Turks & Caicos, Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Most of these islands also had considerable damage, not to mention the looting activities which took place after the storm. These islands are also dependent on tourism for their economy and with the damage received it will take some time to bounce back. However, I know we all will.
Caribbean people are extremely resilient!
Be sure to check out official websites for these islands to gain perspective on ways to donate.