Hurricane Irma’s Impact on the Caribbean

Hurricane Irma
The team of Worldwide Boat are shocked and saddened by the devastation that has taken place in the Caribbean in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

On Wednesday, September 6th, 2017, Hurricane Irma passed over the Northern Caribbean, leaving a path of devastation in its wake. At the time that the eye of the storm crossed the British Virgin Islands, it was a Category 5, the highest classification a storm can reach. In addition to the BVI, other islands affected the most dramatically include Anguilla, Barbuda, St. Martin, and St Barts. Reaching sustained wind speeds of 185mph, Hurricane Irma has claimed 38 lives thus far with five known deaths in the BVI. Dozens of other people are unaccounted for across the Caribbean.

Irma is the most powerful storm to hit the North Atlantic since 1980. Many island communities and resorts in the BVI have been destroyed, and many yachts and marinas are counted among the wreckage caused by the intense winds. The damage to Tortola is akin to a war zone, and residents are fleeing the island to escape the dire conditions. Remote corners of Jost Van Dyke are in need of food and clean water. Communications are down, leaving many unsure about the fate of their friends and family in the BVI.

As visitors to this part of the world can attest, the people of the Caribbean are warm, generous and hospitable. Their homes and their livelihoods have been lost as a result of this catastrophic storm. Picturesque beaches, towns and resorts have been reduced to rubble. Trees were stripped of their leaves and the green hillsides are a sea of brown mud. Tourism is the main source of income for many who live in the BVI and surrounding island affected by Irma, and that industry has been affected. A state of emergency has been declared.

The residents of Barbuda were evacuated to nearby Antigua to stay in shelters or with friends and family. Many left Barbuda with just the clothes on their backs. Homes have been leveled, and although Barbuda’s residents have lost everything, many are eager to return and start rebuilding. St. Martin/St. Maarten sustained major damage, with a third of its buildings destroyed and damage to more than 90 percent of them. In Anguilla, 70 percent of their electricity poles are down although cellular service has remained mostly intact.

Cruise ships and other aid vessels are on their way to help in the BVI and the other North Caribbean islands affected by Hurricane Irma; this includes a crane to move shipping containers filled with supplies. A French military ship will be arriving soon to build temporary housing for those who have been displaced. Notable resident Sir Richard Branson, who was at his estate on Necker Island in the BVI during the hurricane, has also set up a relief organization to support the reconstruction of the islands.

The yacht charter community and friends of the BVI are asking how they can contribute to the disaster recovery efforts that are currently underway to help rebuild the islands, restoring the tropical paradise that has captivated the hearts of all who have spent time on her shores. To help with the immediate support needed for housing, infrastructure, power, clean water, food and other supplies, you can make a donation at https://bvirelief.com/donate-money

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