Assessments are still coming in from the impact of Hurricane Irma on a number of Caribbean countries in the northern Leeward Islands and the northern Caribbean with warnings and watches still in place for a few countries in Irma’s path. Additionally, due to the projected path of Hurricane Jose, a category 4 storm, tropical storm and hurricane watches and warnings have been issued for some countries in the northern Leeward Islands.
Following is an update regarding Irma’s impact as well as steps being taken by countries still in Irma’s path. Reports from CHTA-member hotels have been included where available and details regarding Jose’s projected track are listed.
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua was not impacted by Hurricane Irma with electricity being resort to the Capital St. John’s and most parts of the island. The V.C. Bird International Airport opened for all flights on Thursday, 7 September.
On the other hand, Barbuda with its approximately 1,800 residents was severely impacted by the hurricane which passed directly over the small island, resulting in one fatality. The prime minister, Gaston Browne said 90 per cent of homes were destroyed. Barbuda’s hotel infrastructure was also damaged, but with less than 100 hotel rooms the overall effect on tourism as a whole is minimal.
With Hurricane Jose threatening, the prime minister issued a mandatory evacuation order for Barbuda on Friday 8 September, the very day the first of three Amerijet cargo planes, with over 120, 000 pounds of hurricane relief for the island arrived on Antigua.
The Government of Venezuela has also made two aircraft available to transport goods for Barbuda as well as a medical team of 20 doctors and nurses experienced in disasters.
N.B. In the most recent update on Hurricane Jose issued at at 11a.m. Eastern Caribbean Time (15:00 GMT) by the National Hurricane Centre in the US, the tropical storm watch for Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, St. Thomas and St. John had been discontinued. A hurricane warning remained in effect for Sint Maarten, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, and a tropical storm warning remained in effect for Anguilla, Barbuda, Saba and St. Eustatius.
The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency is reporting the airport runway and most roads leading to the airport have been cleared of debris. The agency is also reporting that 90 per cent of government buildings and business structures were damaged as well as 90 per cent of the electricity infrastructure. There is also significant damage to the main water supply.
The British government has deployed three humanitarian aid experts from the UK to assist with needs assessments and coordination.
The British naval ship Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay has arrived in the territory, with 40 Royal Marines and Army engineers on board. The ship carries a range of equipment to support humanitarian responses including vehicles, tents and facilities to purify water. hundreds of troops and the Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean to its overseas islands.
Quintessence Hotel which had been expected to reopen 1 November suffered damage during Hurricane Irma, so those plans have been delayed.
The Islands of The Bahamas
The all clear has been given for Nassau, New Providence the most populous island, and popular destination within the country. The all clear for the central and southeastern Bahamas was issued earlier today.
At this time only Grand Bahama, Bimini, and Andros remain under a hurricane warning as Hurricane Irma moves away from the islands-nation.
The Lynden Pindling International Airport in Nassau sustained no damage from Hurricane Irma and will resume operations tomorrow Sunday, 10 September at 5:00 a.m.
The travelling public is encouraged to contact their respective airlines for flight information using the listing of all airlines and their contacts found on LPIA’s website at nassaulpia.com
All other airports throughout The Islands of The Bahamas remain closed, but operations will resume as soon as the National Emergency Management Agency gives the “all clear” and the airports have been assessed and cleared for opening.
Cruise ports of entry throughout The Bahamas will also be assessed for clearance to re-open. Cruise reservation holders should check directly with their cruise providers for updates on departures and itineraries.
British Virgin Islands
The destruction caused by Hurricane Irma in the British Virgin Islands has been devastating, according to a statement from Sharon Flax-Brutus, the director of tourism. With cell phone towers down and power outages, communication to, from and within, the territory has been difficult, impacting the ability to fully assess the damage. The destination has lost entire structures and many homes are without roofs, or have been diminished to merely foundations.
The Government has begun to coordinate humanitarian relief efforts and an initial clean-up operation. The UK government is sending Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean to offer relief and support.
Hurricane Irma is passing along the northern coast of Cuba, where thousands of tourists were evacuated from low-lying cays off the coast.
Punta Cana International Airport has resumed normal operations following the passage of Hurricane Irma after the storm passed off Punta Cana’s coast. The area’s hotel sector is reporting no major damage. Damaged homes and flooded streets in Cabarete and Sosua have been reported.
Reports indicate that damage and flooding is minor in Haiti but warnings for possible flooding are still in effect.
The Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) is reporting that major tourism infrastructure and attractions are operational and the island can continue to welcome new visitors. The PRTC said while there have been power outages, many hotels, as well as essential services such as hospitals, have generators and are operational. The majority of hotels throughout mainland Puerto Rico are ready to welcome new guests. Attractions such as parks and beaches are currently being assessed to ensure a committed focus on quick clean up in the coming days.
Flights to and from Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport have resumed. Puerto Rico’s port is operational and should be receiving cruises by September 9.
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts & Nevis sustained minimal damage overall and both St. Kitts’ Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport and Nevis’ Vance W. Amory International Airport have reopened.
It has been reported that St. Barth’s was heavily impacted by Hurricane Irma which destroyed government buildings and badly damaged private homes and resorts including the Eden Rock Hotel. There is flooding throughout the destination. The French government is sending people and supplies to the country to assist with recovery efforts.
St. Maarten (Dutch) / St. Martin (French)
The recovery effort continues. Director of tourism for Dutch St. Maarten Rolando Brison is reporting that Sun Wing has evacuated some visitors to Montreal, Canada, while other guests have also been evacuated. The Princess Juliana International Airport has been receiving flights that are bringing in relief supplies, and evacuating guests. No passengers, including media, are being allowed in at the moment due to a shortage of staff to man the airport.
However, the airport has been closed, pending the passage of Hurricane Jose, which is now projected to pass away from the Franco-Dutch island. In a best case scenario, he said, the airport can reopen on Sunday 10 September for the resumption of relief flights.
A few roofs lost, some downed trees, but the island suffered minimal damage by Hurricane Irma. The airport and seaport are both operational, and telephone, internet, electricity are water are also back up.
Turks and Caicos Islands
Governor Dr. John Freeman and Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson given the all-clear. They have said in a joint statement that assessment of the damage is continuing.
The director of Tourism Ramon Andrews reported that Turks and Caicos Islands experienced flooding, some structural damage, roofs that have been blown off, downed trees, no loss of life and all visitors are safe.
Many roads have been flooded and power lines and transformers are down, according to the emergency management agency.
Providenciales International Airport (PLS) is currently closed.
United States Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas)
The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism has advised that full assessment on the impact of Hurricane Irma is under way and while St. Croix is getting back to business, visitors are being encouraged not to visit St. Thomas and St. John.
According to commissioner of tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty, “The island of St. Croix did not receive the full brunt of the storm, and St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport received its first commercial flight” a JetBlue flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico on Friday 8 September.
She reported that communication is still limited, there is significant damage to infrastructure in St. Thomas and St. John, and the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas will not be open for commercial traffic before Jose passes the area this weekend.
To ensure everyone’s safety, the postponement of all scheduled visits to St. Thomas and St. John is being recommended.
The storm has resulted in four casualties to date on the island of St. Thomas.