Hurricane Maria Damage Assesssment
9/25/17: As the three major hurricanes that slammed through the Atlantic begin to drift away from the perpetual news cycle, it is important to keep in mind what damage was left in their wake. Early economic estimates place the financial cost of Irma's destruction at around $10 billion across the affected islands, according to the UNOCHA. Many federal and local teams on the ground in these islands are still in the damage assessment stage. While it is a bit premature to rank or confidently quantify the damage, here we have a few facts and figures around the islands that were in the direct line of fire from Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma:
o 95% of all buildings destroyed, 1 death
o Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the island was "literally under water" and "barely habitable".
o Currently uninhabited
o No major damage or loss of life
o A number of hotels have begun clean up operations, while the Malliouhana and Quintessence Boutique Resort anticipated more extended recovery times.
o 90% of all government buildings were severely affected and 80-90% of the island's schools have been damaged, the UNOCHA said. Electricity and phone lines have been disrupted, hospitals have limited capabilities and there is no running water.
• The Bahamas
o “The Bahamas is getting back to business as airports are open in Nassau, Grand Bahama Island and on nearly all Out Islands,” said the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation. “Parts of the southern islands were more heavily impacted with damage ranging from cosmetic to severe structural damage.” However, the tourist board said the “majority of hotels and resorts throughout the Bahamas are operating as usual”
• The British Virgin Islands
o The BVIs were hit hard, with five confirmed dead
o Sharon Flax-Brutus, director of tourism for the British Virgin Islands (BVI), said the damage was difficult to assess because communications were down, but that "many homes are without roofs, or have been diminished to merely foundations
o 90% of the houses on the North Sound have structural or total damage. In the Spanish Town, 75% of the homes have been damaged. The island's water systems have been significantly damaged and electricity is scarce.
o Montserrat has reported it has emerged “unscathed”.
• Puerto Rico
o Millions were left without power in Puerto Rico
o Three confirmed deaths on the island due directly to Hurricane Irma
o Hurricane Irma caused waves of up to 30ft (9m) off the capital San Juan.
o Although the US territory avoided a direct hit, its infrastructure was badly affected - more than half of the island's three million residents were without power and officials said many could be cut off for several days
• St Maarten/St Martin
o The Franco-Dutch island was hit hard by Hurricane Irma and the relief effort is continuing. Nearly all resorts and hotels were damaged, some seriously, and the vital aid is currently the focus of the authorities.
o The hurricane left more than two-thirds of homes on the Dutch side of the island of St Martin uninhabitable, with no electricity, gas or drinking water, and four people confirmed dead.
• Turks and Caicos Islands
o Irma ripped off roofs on the main island, Grand Turk, flooded streets, snapped utility poles and caused a widespread black-out.
o Infrastructure has been severely damaged on Turks and Caicos, a British overseas territory home to about 52,000 people, after Irma barreled through overnight Thursday into Friday.
o There is no electricity, bottled water is limited and damage at a water treatment plant has halted distribution of drinkable water. On South Caicos, 80-90% of homes have been damaged; schools, government buildings and hospitals have been badly hit.
• US Virgin Islands
o Ports and airports have reopened and the majority of hotels on St Croix are welcoming guests again. St Thomas, however, suffered more damage. Nearly all resorts on the islands have said they will remain closed until further notice.
o Ten people were killed after Irma made landfall on Cuba late on Friday - the first category five hurricane to hit the country in decades.
o Around one million individuals evacuated the island ahead of the storm
o 13 of the country's 15 provinces have been affected. Although flood waters are receding in Havana, flooding in other coastal and mountain areas have left some communities isolated. Fresh water supplies have been contaminated in the north, according to the UNOCHA
• Dominican Republic
o Flooding and infrastructure damage, although reports stating the damage is not as severe as was expected
o About 20,000 people were evacuated ahead of the storm.
Sources: CNN (http://www.cnn.com/2017/09/13/americas/hurricane-irma-caribbean-one-week-on/index.html), Al Jazeera (http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/09/hurricane-irma-major-damage-caribbean-170906125629286.html), BBC (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-41218002)