Irma Strikes the Caribbean


Early this morning, Irma passed over the Eastern Caribbean leaving many of the islands damaged. The islands of St. Barthelemy, St. Martin, Barbuda among others were left in rubbles. Homes were flooded, entire roofs were torn off from buildings, and the power was out in some areas of the islands. Even the stations of emergency response teams such as the police and fire stations were jeopardized. Hotels in the islands were also compromised, forcing guests to be evacuated. In the case of the St. Marteen Hotel in St. Martin, guests were evacuated to a “concrete stairwell of [the] building.” Among them was Alex Woolfall, a British public relations consultant who live tweeted the catastrophe before the power went out in his hotel. His last tweet read, “This is like a movie I never want to see.” To check out the rest of his tweets, you can find him on twitter under @woolfallalex. Unfortunately, several deaths have already been reported in the Caribbean islands and more are expected.


Photo of Hurricane Irma's destruction on St. Barthelemy.

Photo by Carole Greaux.



The islands of Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, Nevis, the Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and even Cuba are still at risk. One of the biggest concerns of Puerto Rico at the moment is the possibility of flooding which is typically the main cause of death during hurricanes. As of now, they are expecting up to 12 inches of rain in some areas of the island. The last time Puerto Rico was impacted by a hurricane of this category was in 1928, nearly a century ago, and it killed over 2,000 civilians.


Governor Ricardo Rossello said in a press briefing that there are 456 shelters opened in the island of Puerto Rico, ready to take in those in need. As of this morning, there were 700 people already seeking refuge from the storm in these shelters. “We must prepare ourselves for the worst. The result of not doing so would be devastating,” said Rossello.


Irma’s track indicates that the storm’s most dangerous winds, usually nearest to the eye will be passing near the north of Puerto Rico and the northern Virgin Islands. For that reason, Rossello expects major infrastructure destruction in Puerto Rico.


Amidst Irma’s fury, two tropical storms developed both of which have officially been declared hurricanes. Jose is lagging behind Irma in the Atlantic and Katia has developed in southern the Gulf of Mexico. As you monitor Irma, please stay updated on the progress of Jose and Katia as well.



Please be aware that a hurricane gains strength when it is over water. Although Irma will be passing through many islands on the way to Florida, it will hit water once again before passing over us. Take as many precautions as necessary and make note of the nearest shelter.


In the FIU community, there are many natives and descendants from the Caribbean. As Irma approaches, we are thinking not only of the impact that Irma will have on Florida, our current home, but also on our native homes. I hope we are all able to brave this storm and come out of this as a stronger, more united community, ready to rebuild and extend a helping hand to other countries in humanitarian need.