Aid on way to Irma-bat­tered is­lands as death toll rises

Truro Daily News - - HURRICANE IRMA -

With ports mended and weather cleared, Caribbean of­fi­cials strug­gled Mon­day to get aid to is­lands dev­as­tated by Hur­ri­cane Irma and tried to take stock of the dam­age caused by the Cat­e­gory 5 storm.

At least 34 peo­ple were re­ported to have been killed in the re­gion, in­clud­ing 10 in Cuba, whose north­ern coast was raked by the storm. Cuban state me­dia said most of those died in Ha­vana, where seawa­ter surged deep into res­i­den­tial neigh­bour­hoods.

To the east, in the Lee­ward Is­lands known as the play­ground for the rich and fa­mous, gov­ern­ments came un­der crit­i­cism for fail­ing to re­spond quickly to the hur­ri­cane, which flat­tened many towns and turned lush, green hills to a brown stub­ble.

Res­i­dents have re­ported food, wa­ter and medicine short­ages, as well as loot­ing.

Bri­tish For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son de­fended his gov­ern­ment’s re­sponse to what he called an “un­prece­dented catas­tro­phe” and promised to in­crease fund­ing for the re­lief ef­fort. Bri­tain sent a navy ship and al­most 500 troops to the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands, An­guilla and the Turks and Caicos is­lands that were pum­meled by the hur­ri­cane.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment said it was send­ing a flight Mon­day to evac­u­ate its ci­ti­zens from St. Martin, one of the hard­est-hit is­lands. Evac­uees were warned to ex­pect long lines and no run­ning wa­ter at the air­port.

A Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship was ex­pected to dock near

St. Martin to help in the af­ter­math, and a boat was bring­ing a five-ton crane ca­pa­ble of un­load­ing large ship­ping con­tain­ers of aid.

A French military ship was sched­uled to ar­rive to­day with ma­te­ri­als for tem­po­rary housing.

About 70 per cent of the beds at the main hos­pi­tal in the French por­tion of St. Martin were se­verely dam­aged, and more than 100 peo­ple need­ing ur­gent med­i­cal care were evac­u­ated. Eight of the ter­ri­tory’s 11 phar­ma­cies were de­stroyed, and Guade­loupe was send­ing med­i­ca­tion.

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron was sched­uled to ar­rive

in St. Martin to­day to bring aid and fend off crit­i­cism that he didn’t do enough to re­spond to the storm.

The “whole gov­ern­ment is mo­bi­lized” to help, said In­te­rior Min­is­ter Ger­ard Col­lomb.

Soon af­ter Irma killed 10 peo­ple on St. Martin, Cat­e­gory 4 Hur­ri­cane Jose threat­ened the area, halt­ing evac­u­a­tions for hours be­fore head­ing out to sea and caus­ing lit­tle ad­di­tional dam­age.

Also hit hard was Cuba, where cen­tral Ha­vana neigh­bour­hoods along the coast be­tween the Al­men­dares River and the har­bour suf­fered the worst flood­ing. Seawa­ter pen­e­trated as much as a

half-kilo­me­tre in­land in some places.

Cuban state me­dia re­ported 10 deaths de­spite the coun­try’s usu­ally rig­or­ous dis­as­ter prepa­ra­tions. More than one mil­lion were evac­u­ated from flood-prone ar­eas.

Hec­tor Pul­pito re­counted a har­row­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at his job as night cus­to­dian of a park­ing lot that flooded five blocks from the sea in Ha­vana’s Vedado neigh­bour­hood.

“This was the worst of the storms I have been through, and the sea rose much higher,” Pul­pito said. “The trees were shak­ing. Metal roofs went fly­ing.”


Mem­bers of a res­cue team nav­i­gate a flooded street Ha­vana af­ter the pas­sage of Hur­ri­cane Irma in Cuba on Sun­day. The pow­er­ful storm ripped roofs off houses, col­lapsed build­ings and flooded hun­dreds of miles of coast­line af­ter cut­ting a trail of...

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