Here’s How Hurricane Irma Is Affecting the Caribbean

Following the historically destructive Hurricane Harvey, Florida braces for Hurricane Irma. But Hurricane Irma is hitting millions of other people besides Floridians. Considering news sources and media outlets in the U.S. can be centric on news directly affecting Americans, you might not hear about the destruction of Hurricane Irma elsewhere. But that doesn’t mean the people living elsewhere are any less deserving of being reported on or fundraised for. So without further ado, here’s the roundup of the damage Hurricane Irma has done so far:

Barbuda seems to have gotten the worst imaginable from Hurricane Irma, as it has been reported that half of the island has been left homeless. Local officials have declared a state of emergency there and hope to evacuate all of Barbuda’s residents to its (relatively spared) sister island of Antigua in preparation for Hurricane Jose which is expected to follow Hurricane Irma.

Similarly, St. Martin has suffered extreme damages due to Hurricane Irma. On the French side of the island, it has been reported that 95% of houses were damaged, with 60% being uninhabitable and that there have been four deaths. The Dutch side has experienced similar devastation but the umbers of fatalities and injuries are unknown. It is known that the airport there has been severely damaged. The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, has released a statement saying France is “grief-stricken” and directly tied the damage from Hurricane Irma to climate change, warning that the world needs to take action. Further, France has been praised for its preparedness and response for its Caribbean territories, particularly in comparison to Britain’s level of inaction.

Speaking of British territories, Turks and Caicos took a pretty harsh beating from Hurricane Irma. The hurricane has caused an island-wide blackout, damaged the roof of a hospital in its capital, but has, thankfully, not caused any known fatalities. Anguilla, however, was not as lucky and one death has been reported. A lawyer from Anguilla told the BBC that Britain’s preparedness was underwhelming and should have been more like France’s, which “[…] made sure they had military on the ground so the response given is timely, which makes it effective, which makes it helpful to [her] people”.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti have been relatively lucky this time, with flooding still being a concern for the Dominican Republic and landslides and flooding still threatening Haiti, which is still recovering from Hurricane Matthew.

Last but certainly not least are the U.S.’s own territories. Three people have been killed in St. Thomas and St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, as reported by Governor Mapp’s office. Three more people have been reported killed in Puerto Rico, who did not receive the worst of the storm but is still in a damaged state, nonetheless. The hurricane has also done a number on Puerto Rico’s electricity grid, leaving close to one million residents without power (and that figure is after power was restored to 144,000 households). The damage to the electrical grid could last for months in some areas. More than 4,000 residents have lost water service due to the hurricane as well. America’s response to the damage in Puerto Rico is one to watch following the hurricane, as Trump has already declared a state of emergency in the territory and Governor Ricardo A. Rosselló has requested the services of the Army National Guard to aid in recovery. That all sounds great, especially if the U.S. delivers, but the country doesn’t exactly have a great track record of taking necessary actions when it comes to Puerto Rico.

And yes, Florida is preparing and evacuating as you read this. This is not to say that Florida doesn’t matter, but rather that all of these other countries and territories do matter. Their people matter.

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Sara Beyer is an eighteen year old girl from Buffalo, New York. She likes talking about politics, dismantling the patriarchy, and wearing lipstick.

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