Hurricane Irma: Caribbean weathers storm as Florida prepares for worst

Thursday, September 7th, 2017
Last Update: 10:28
The record-breaking storm has plowed through the French Caribbean, leaving destruction in its wake. From France to the US, officials have warned that the Category 5 storm may be disastrous.Hurricane Irma on Wednesday slammed into a chain of small islands that included French territories St. Martin and Saint Barthelemy with sustained winds of 185 miles per hour (298 kilometers per hour). "We have a lot to fear for a certain number of our compatriots who unfortunately didn´t want to listen to the protection measures and go to more secure sites … We´re preparing for the worst," said Annick Girardin, France´s minister for overseas territories.

France said it sent emergency food and water rations to its territories in the Caribbean ahead of the hurricane´s arrival, and will provide support in the wake of the storm. Weathering the storm Irma, considered the strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever recorded, tore roofs off buildings and caused widespread flooding in the French Caribbean.

The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) published a tweet that showed Irma passing over the French territories and heading towards the US Virgin Islands, describing the extreme weather phenomenon as "extremely dangerous." Officials said preliminary assessments suggested no immediate casualties.

"We in Antigua have weathered the most powerful hurricane ever to storm its way through the Caribbean," said Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne. "And we have done so with stunning results." ´Like nothing we´ve ever seen´ After passing through the French Caribbean, meteorological services are expecting Irma to continue westward on a path taking it slightly north of Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba. The US National Weather Service said that since 1928, Puerto Rico had not seen a hurricane of Irma´s magnitude. Read more: Hurricane Harvey: Is climate change to blame? "The dangerousness of this event is like nothing we´ve ever seen," said Puerto Rican Governor Ricardo Rossello.

"A lot of infrastructure won´t be able to withstand this kind of force." ´Could be not good, believe me, not good´ In the US, Florida residents braced for the storm after the state´s governor, Rick Scott, declared a statewide emergency, warning of the severity of the storm.

"The storm is bigger, faster and stronger than Hurricane Andrew," said Scott, referring to a storm that devastated the state in 1992 and the costliest to make landfall in the US until Hurricane Katrina in 2005. US President Donald Trump declared emergencies in Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, saying Irma "looks like it could be something that could be not good, believe me, not good." Irma could become the second major hurricane to make landfall in the US in less than two weeks.

Hurricane Harvey struck Texas last week, killing more than 60 people and displacing roughly 1 million.

ls/msh (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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