After Hurricane Irma struck the tiny Caribbean island of Barbuda early Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Gaston Browne reported that the island of 1,700 people is “practically uninhabitable,” according to The New York Post.
By Browne’s estimation, 90 percent of the structures have been destroyed. Chief of staff Lionel Hurst agreed. So far, two people have been claimed by the Hurricane, two more have been seriously injured.
The size and magnitude of Hurricane Irma is startling. Comparisons between it and Hurricane Andrew from 1992 show Irma essentially dwarfing that storm; Andrew, on record, was one of the most devastating storms to strike Florida. Irma is larger than even Katrina, which came ashore the Gulf Coast in 2005, bringing with it unprecedented floods.
Irma, by all measures, is larger, faster and packs such strong winds that it’s destroying the equipment trying to measure it. But there’s hope. So far both Antigua and Barbuda have weathered the brunt of the storm’s power. Although Barbuda was made uninhabitable, the denizens of both have drawn praise from their officials for having survived. The Guardian reports that 95 percent of St. Martin has been destroyed.
“It is clear that Antigua and Barbuda has stood up to a mighty test,” said Browne in a Facebook post, after traveling to both islands, of which he is the governor. In comparing Barbuda’s devastation to the lesser-affected Antigua, Browne said that “I never contemplated any possibility that you could have such a contrast.”
That hope may suffer an even greater test. In the wake of Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Jose—the 10th Hurricane of the season—is gathering strength in the Atlantic. Instruments have measured 75 mph winds that are increasing.
In the fervor to evade Irma, persons have booked every seat available on airplanes leaving Florida, at the same time flooding the I-95 corridor. There’s a chance that Irma may skip off Florida into the Atlantic; there’s also a chance that it could drift inland as far as Pennsylvania.
Wherever it goes, it’s sure to make its mark. Meteorologist Jason Dunning pointed out that the diameter of Hurricane Irma is 400 miles wide—the same distance from Tallahassee to Miami. In other words, Hurricane Irma is large enough to cover the entire state of Florida.
Please pray for the people caught in the path of Hurricane Irma as one state following another state declares a state of emergency in preparation for Irma’s landfall.