13 September, 2017
The storm stripped the islands' formerly lush green hills to a brown stubble and flattened buildings, then swamped much of Cuba's coastline, including Havana's iconic Malecon seawall.
Also hit hard was Cuba, where central Havana neighborhoods along the coast between the Almendares River and the harbor suffered the brunt of the flooding. Hurricane-force winds of 125 miles per hour whipped roofs clean off buildings, ripped trees from the ground and forced evacuations along the coast. Those who remained told CNN they were prepared, though they knew this was a storm like few had ever experienced.
Cuban state television reported severe damage to hotels on the northern keys off Ciego de Avila and Camaguey provinces.
But it was nothing like the force delivered by deadly Hurricane Irma, which battered many islands, including Barbuda, just days ago. Britain has sent a navy ship and nearly 500 troops to help people on the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and the Turks and Caicos islands that were pummeled by the hurricane.
Irma already this week left a trail of flooded streets, toppled buildings, uprooted trees, upside-down boats and cars, and residents and visitors scrambling to secure shelter, food and clean water.
Nine deaths due to Irma were reported in St. Martin and St. Barts, a French territory, and two deaths were reported in Dutch St. Maarten, which is located on the same island as St. Martin. The overall death toll has risen from Irma's powerful rampage through the Caribbean to 38. As a result, some 95% of the structures on the island about the size of Nantucket were either damaged or destroyed.
Miami Airport management said ‘a big thank you’ to Hudson News for staying open 24/7 during the Hurricane Irma threat in Florida
On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron was scheduled to arrive in St. Martin to bring aid and fend off criticism that he didn't do enough to respond to the storm's wrath. Between Friday and Sunday afternoon, the United States evacuated approximately 1,200 Americans from St. Maarten, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.
With power out to much of the French Caribbean region, France's main electricity provider, EDF, said it has flown 140 tons of generators, pumps and other equipment to help St. Martin and St. Barts. The agency also said more security was needed to control an outbreak of looting.
There were no immediate reports of fatalities in Cuba, where the government prides itself on disaster preparedness and said it had evacuated more than 1 million people. The island is home to about 72,000 people.
Hurricane Irma left the British overseas territory of Barbuda "barely inhabitable" according to the Prime Minister, Gaston Browne.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson will be visiting the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla to see the relief effort firsthand. "All of us have been affected by Irma, and some more than others", Gus Jaspert, governor of the British Virgin Islands, said Thursday. Various militaries - the Dutch, the French, the U.S., Puerto Rican National Guard - have been taking people off of these islands in the last couple of days. "I am truly heartbroken by this news". The hospital in Barbuda suffered significant damage is not functioning at all.