HURRICANE IRMA BATTERS CARIBBEAN
Superstorm causes chaos
Asecond major hurricane has hit US, after Hurricane Harvey destroyed parts of Texas last month. Hurricane Irma began in the Caribbean and arrived in Florida, in the US, last weekend. At least 47 people died. Here’s how the disaster unfolded.
30 August – 5 September
Irma began as a tropical storm in with winds of up to 50mph. Over the next few days, it became a hurricane, and wind speeds reached 151mph, making it the most powerful storm in the Atlantic
Ocean since records began.
Irma reached the island of Barbuda, destroying lots of properties. The prime minister, Gaston Browne, said 95% of buildings were damaged and that the island was “literally under water”. One resident, Elessa Harris, 22, said she saw her “roof being lifted up by the winds”. Her entire village was destroyed.
On the nearby island of St Martin, the winds were so strong that trees were pulled out of the ground and boats and cars went flying. Irma also badly damaged Saint Barthélemy, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the US Virgin Islands. When Irma got to Puerto Rico that night, waves reached nine metres high and hundreds of people lost their homes.
On 7 September, Irma passed over the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands, with winds of up to 175mph. It then travelled to the southern Bahamas before reaching Cuba and the northern Bahamas on 8 September. Heavy rains
flooded Havana, the capital of Cuba.
Millions of people in Florida were ordered to leave their homes. When the hurricane arrived, around 5.8 million homes and businesses lost power. In parts of Miami, the water was up to people’s waists. By 12 September, Irma had reached the US state of Georgia, but it had lost power, and wind speeds dropped to 35mph.
How have people responded?
The UK Government has pledged £57million to help with the relief effort and about 900 UK troops have been sent to its overseas territories in the Caribbean, as well as food, water and medical supplies. There are 14 British Overseas Territories around the world, which used to be part of the British Empire. However, some people said the UK Government reacted too slowly. Donald Trump, the US president, promised billions of dollars to help Florida.
People in flooded
Havana, the capital of Cuba.
UK soldiers brought supplies.