BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, September 6, 2017 (CMC) – Hurricane Irma was moving towards the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Florida after pounding the British Overseas Territory Anguilla and St. Martin, as it makes its way through the Lesser Antilles on Wednesday.
The authorities in St. Barthélemy and St. Martin say that several buildings have been destroyed and there’s a total electricity blackout.
They said, in St. Martin, government offices have been partly destroyed and the island’s French Prefect and 23 staff are taking shelter in a concrete-lined room.
Police have also reported several roofs have blown off in the storm.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that the storm, a Category 5 Hurricane, is located 65 miles east-south-east of St. Thomas and about 140 miles east of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
“Irma is moving toward the west-northwest, near 16 miles per hour (mph) and this general motion is expected to continue for the next couple of days.
“On the forecast track, the extremely dangerous core of Irma will move over portions of the Virgin Islands very soon, pass near or just north of Puerto Rico this afternoon or tonight, pass near or just north of the coast of the Dominican Republic, Thursday, and be near the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas, late Thursday,” the NHC said.
It said maximum sustained winds are near 185 mph, with higher gusts and that some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful Category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days.
A hurricane warning has been issued for the north coast of Haiti, from the northern border with the Dominican Republic to Le Mole St. Nicholas, while a Tropical Storm Warning has been issued for the coast of Haiti from south of Le Mole St. Nicholas to Port-Au-Prince.
Warning and watches have been discontinued for several Caribbean countries including Guadeloupe, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Montserrat.
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, said that with regard to Barbuda, preliminary reports indicate damage to roofs and to some buildings, “but I have had no report of any fatalities”.
“I intend to visit Barbuda at the earliest opportunity to see conditions on the island for myself,” Browne said, adding he remains confident that the damages in Antigua were minimal and that the regular operations could resume in short order.
In St. Kitts-Nevis, the authorities said that the storm passed to the north of the Federation and while residents are still experiencing wind and rains, initial reports appear to indicate that the Federation has escaped the worst.
“Everyone is advised to remain indoors until storm conditions pass, and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) states that it is safe to venture outdoors.
“St. Kitts’ Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (SKB) remains closed until further notice. The island’s cruise ports are also closed until further notice and visitors who have not evacuated are being sheltered. Updated information will be provided as it becomes available,” the authorities said in a statement.