THE CARIBBEAN TOURISM ORGANISATION has issued an update of the state of the islands affected by Hurricane Irma.
Hurricane Irma has had a major impact on a number of Caribbean countries in the northern Leeward Islands and the northern Caribbean and continues to threaten several more.
The following is an update regarding Irma’s impact as well as steps being taken by countries still in the hurricane’s projected path:
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua was spared Irma’s brunt, but it passed over the island of Barbuda. Antigua’s V.C. Bird International Airport reopened on the afternoon of September 6, to flights into and out of the country.
The government reported no loss of life on Antigua and the local population and all visitors to the island are safe. Most residential, business and hotel properties in Antigua remain largely unscathed and already the main roads have been cleared of debris.
However, Barbuda suffered extensive damage, with Prime Minister Gaston Browne reporting one death and damage to infrastructure, downed utility poles and cell towers.
A complete assessment is still underway, however, the latest assessment reports indicate that critical infrastructure, such as the hospital, airport, fire station, police station, government buildings and utilities received moderate to severe damage. Repair and road clearance crews are working diligently in efforts to restore conditions to pre-Irma status, and as the clean up begins the full extent of the damage is being revealed.
The government is reporting there was one confirmed fatality.
The British government has deployed three humanitarian aid experts from the UK to assist with needs assessments and coordination.
The British naval ship Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay has arrived on island, with 40 Royal Marines and Army engineers on board. The ship carries a range of equipment to support humanitarian responses including vehicles, tents and facilities to purify water.
As Hurricane Irma make its way towards The Bahamas, the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism reported that the Lynden Pindling International Airport in New Providence, as well as airports in Inagua, Ragged Island, Acklins, Crooked Island, Mayaguna, Long Island, Rum Cay, Exuma & the Cays, San Salvador, Cat Island and Eleuthera are closing at sunset on Thursday, September 7.
On Friday, September 8, the following airports will close at varying times throughout the day: Andros, Congo Town & Mangrove Cay (11 a.m. closure); Grand Bahama (noon closure); Andros, Fresh Creek and San Andros (4 p.m. closure); The Abacos, Berry Islands and Bimini (sunset closure).
British Virgin Islands
The British Virgin Islands took a direct hit from Hurricane Irma. The full extent of the damage is still being determined, but cars, trees, homes and boats have reportedly been destroyed.
The tourist board is reporting that most communications remain down, including mobile phone service and Internet access.
The Government has begun to coordinate humanitarian relief efforts and an initial clean-up operation. The British government is sending hundreds of troops and the Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean to its overseas islands affected by Hurricane Irma.
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