Hurricane Irma is now off the coast of Hispaniola, headed toward Florida. It’s the only recorded hurricane to maintain category 5 intensity for so long.
The storm has already killed 10 people, with more expected. At least one of them was a child, in Barbuda.
In Irma’s wake, the island of Barbuda is now “barely habitable.” Prime Minister Gaston Browne reports that up to 95 percent of buildings are damaged. He says that half of residents are now homeless, and it will cost $100 million to rebuild the island.
Nearby, the island of St. Martin is also said to have been mostly destroyed. The interior minister of France reported eight deaths and at least 23 injured, with more expected as rescue teams continue to work through the aftermath.
Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rossello said this morning that officials are assessing the damage after Irma swept past the coast. The storm stayed mostly asea, but still left 1 million Puerto Ricans without power, and hundreds of thousands without potable water.
Hurricane Irma Heads North
Meanwhile, Irma is currently north of Hispaniola, heading to the Turks and Caicos. These low lying islands may be in danger of storm swells, and are anticipating waves up to 20 feet higher than usual.
The Bahamas are also in Irma’s path; they are bracing themselves for the weather to hit on Saturday. By Sunday, the hurricane is expected to reach the United States.
Floridians are in a panic as the most powerful storm recorded in the last decade heads straight for them.
Category 5 is the highest possible level, indicating a storm capable of catastrophic destruction. Irma has sustained wind speeds of 180 miles per hour. Winds can be felt up to 50 miles from the eye of the storm.
Tropical storms Katia and Jose have both been upgraded to hurricanes as well. Katia is currently picking up speed in the gulf of Mexico, while Jose follows behind Irma.