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Hurricane Irma’s Impact and Reported Damages

Hurricane Irma’s Impact and Reported Damages

Hurricane Irma was the most intense Atlantic hurricane in over a decade. It was also the most intense hurricane to strike the United States(US) since Katrina in 2005 and the first major hurricane to hit the state of Florida since Wilma in 2005. We extend our thoughts and best wishes with anybody who has been affected by these serious events.

Irma was downgraded to a tropical depression this week and continues its path through the states of Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and beyond. In its wake, it has left a trail of destruction throughout the Caribbean and mainland US. Devastation occurred throughout much of the hurricane’s path and initial reports of damage in each area are as follows:

• In Barbuda, Irma reportedly destroyed 95% of its infrastructure including hospital, schools, hotels and residential blocks, also rendering the island’s airport inoperative. Following Irma, Hurricane Jose also brought tropical storm force winds to the evacuated island before changing path. Fortunately, nearby Antigua sustained minimal damage in comparison. 

• On French Saint-Martin marinas were ruined and hotels severely destroyed with as many as 95% of the buildings there affected. On the Dutch side, Sint Maarten, Irma impacted the international airport, and severely damaged about 70% of houses.  On Saint Barthelemy, violent seas swept away entire coastal establishments and one hotel was wrecked. 

• In Anguila, many homes, hospitals and schools are devastated as rough seas inflicted damage upon the bays, harbours and restaurants as well as resulting in most roads becoming impassable.

• Along the rest of the Leeward Islands, Irma affected Saint Lucia, Barbados and Guadeloupe to a lesser degree. Saint Kitts and Nevis are reported to have endured "significant damage" and the Dutch territories of Saba and Sint Eustatius have also suffered infrastructure damage.

• Damage in the British Virgin Islands was extensive with numerous buildings and roads destroyed. Even on Necker Island, the mansion of Sir Richard Branson was ruined. Irma's effects in the US Virgin Islands were mostly confined to St Thomas with widespread structural damage predominantly to its police station and airport. St Croix and St. John, were also affected. 

• In Puerto Rico waves reached 9.1 metres high causing extensive property damage as more than a million residents lost power. The Governor declared the Culebra and Vieques Islands disaster areas.

• In Hispaniola, both the Dominican Republic and Haiti were negatively affected by high winds and heavy rains. A bridge over the Dajabón River, connecting the two countries was impacted. In Dominica many homes were severely hit and in Haiti mudslides destroyed homes, flooded crops and infrastructure.

• In the Turks and Caicos Islands communication infrastructure was destroyed and damage to Providenciales was extensive, with the north-western neighbourhood of Blue Hill reported to be "gone." The hospital was affected but fortunately no deaths or injuries were reported.

• In the Bahamas the effects of Irma were largely confined to the southern islands with downed power lines and roof damage to residential property and schools reported. The Morton Salt Company's production facility also experienced severe damage.  In the northern Bahamas, the worst property damage came when the outer bands of the system produced tornadic activity on Grand Bahama.  Economic effects include those caused by international freight shipping being offline for circa a week and inflated costs for rebuilding supplies due to demand in the US.

Irma had intensified to a Category 5 hurricane when it made landfall in Cuba. According to ‘The New York Times’, northern Cuba suffered impairment to hospitals, factories and warehouses. The tourist areas of Cayos Coco, Guillermo and Santa María and the town of Caibarién received the brunt of the storm and waves surging through town. Flooding worsened as the hurricane moved west, pushing the storm surge as far as Havana. Widespread damage was reported. 

• After crossing the Straits of Florida and being upgraded to a Category 4 hurricane initial landfall took place at Cudjoe Key where a storm surge occurred. Second landfall occurred as a Category 3 hurricane at Marco Island. In Miami, a storm surge inundated Brickell Avenue, two high-rise tower cranes collapsed and a further crane collapsed in Fort Lauderdale. In Jacksonville record flooding was experienced at times, over 2.6 million homes in Florida were without power.

• In Georgia storm surges caused extensive flooding and in Charleston, South Carolina, the third highest storm surge on record was measured severely affecting the area. 

Our NATCAT team is readily available to provide further information and support in all affected areas, they can be contacted via email at natcat@advantaglobal.com