Scores of islands in the Caribbean still counting cost

Scores of islands in the Caribbean still counting cost

STRUGGLE: Aerial view of Barbuda

IN ADDITION to causing massive destruction to the US territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, Hurricanes Irma and Maria severely affected several Caribbean countries and foreign territories.

Between September 5 and 9, 2017, Hurricane Irma caused widespread damage to Barbuda, part of the independent country of Antigua and Barbuda; the island of St Martin/ St Maarten, split between French and Dutch rule (St Martin is a French overseas collectivity while St Maarten is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands); several southeastern and northwestern islands of the Bahamas; and the northern coast of Cuba.

Other islands severely affected were the French overseas collectivity of St Barthélemy and the British overseas territories of Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

On September 18 and 19, respectively, Hurricane Maria severely damaged the country of Dominica and the French department of Guadeloupe with direct hits, while St. Kitts and Nevis experienced lesser damage as the hurricane passed south of the country.

On September 21, the hurricane passed close to the Dominican Republic and Haiti, which experienced limited impact, largely caused by flooding, and the Turks and Caicos Islands were battered once again as the storm passed nearby on September 22.

Reconstruction costs are not yet known, but will likely be high for several of these islands, many of which depend on tourism.

Antigua and Barbuda

Prime Minister Gaston Browne estimates that 95 per cent of the structures on Barbuda were seriously damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Irma, although the larger island of Antigua was largely unscathed.

As a result, the population of Barbuda, estimated at some 1,700 residents, was evacuated completely, with the majority of evacuees sheltering on Antigua. The governor general of Antigua and Barbuda has estimated that the cost of rebuilding Barbuda could be approximately US$300m, not including the costs of providing shelter, schooling, and medical care to those displaced from Barbuda.

St. Martin/St. Maarten

The French- and Dutch-administered island of St Martin (estimated population, 32,000)/St Maarten (estimated population, 42,000) suffered wide-spread damage from Hurricane Irma, with 11 deaths in St Martin and 4 in St Maarten.
The hurricane damaged the island’s water desalination plants and primary airport, as well as electrical and telecommunications networks; an estimated 91 per cent of buildings in St. Maarten suffered damage.

In the aftermath of the hurricane, the island experienced widespread looting. Hundreds of Dutch and French military, police, and emergency personnel have been providing emergency relief and security and working to restore services.

Dominica

With a population of around 74,000, Dominica suffered at least 15 deaths from Hurricane Maria according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), and damage to almost all roofs on the island. The agricultural sector also suffered widespread damage. Washed-out roads, damaged bridges, and communication outages have made rescue operations difficult.

Source: Mark P. Sullivan, CRS Insight

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