Irma hits U.S. soil: Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands battered with 185-mph winds and heavy rain as Category 5 storm rages across Caribbean paradises

Wednesday, September 6, 2017
By Paul Martin

Hurricane Irma brought 185-mph winds and heavy rain to the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico early Wednesday afternoon
Earlier in the morning, it hit several islands in the northeastern Caribbean, causing severe damage
While the damage has been widespread, so far there have been no reports of casualties
The four ‘most solid’ buildings on the island to St. Martin have been destroyed
The Red Cross said it is preparing for ‘a major humanitarian response’ after ‘extremely worrying’ forecasts
While Irma’s end game is still unclear, it appears on track to hit south Florida on Sunday
Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency on Monday for all 67 counties in the state

6 September 2017

Americans are getting their first taste of Hurricane Irma.

Early Wednesday afternoon, the category 5 storm brought 185-mph winds and heavy rains to the U.S. territories in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

While we will have to wait until the storm has passed to survey the damage there, others are just getting started cleaning up the mess.

Irma – the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic – made its first landfall Wednesday morning, pummeling a set of exotic Caribbean islands and sparking a ‘major humanitarian crisis’.

Buildings have been destroyed, roads flooded and people left trapped after the ‘monster’ storm, which is estimated to be the size of France. So far though, there have been no reports of deaths of any of the islands that have experienced Irma’s wrath.

Heavy rain and howling winds from the hurricane raked the island of Antigua, Barbua, St Bars and St. Martin, sending debris flying as people huddled in their homes or public shelters.

French officials said Saint-Barts and Saint-Martin (about 40 per cent of which is Dutch territory) have been ‘battered extremely violently’ with even sturdy government buildings destroyed. Emergency food and water rations are being sent to the islands.

By early Wednesday afternoon the center of the storm was 20 miles east-southeast of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and 90 miles east of San Juan, Puerto Rico and heading west-northwest at 16 mph.

The U.S. National Weather Service said Puerto Rico had not seen a hurricane of Irma’s magnitude since Hurricane San Felipe in 1928, which killed a total of 2,748 people in Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and Florida.

‘The dangerousness of this event is like nothing we’ve ever seen,’ Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said. ‘A lot of infrastructure won’t be able to withstand this kind of force.’

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