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Holness assessing damage caused by Hurricane #Irma in C'bean

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Prime Minister Andrew Holness says contact is being made with prime ministers in Caribbean countries, which have been affected by Hurricane Irma, to ascertain the damage caused by the Category 5 storm.
 
“This is a period of assessment and planning to ascertain what Jamaica can do to assist our Caribbean brothers and sisters who have been significantly impacted by the most powerful hurricane to have emerged in the Atlantic Ocean,” he said in a release from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) today.
 
The OPM said Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Kamina Johnson Smith has advised Holness that inquiries have been made in relation to the welfare of Jamaicans on the affected islands.
 

Johnson Smith says her ministry will continue to make inquiries through the embassies and consulates, and the nation will be updated on the status of Jamaicans as the information becomes available.
 
In the meantime, the OPM said Holness has also been advised that Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson, has briefed the Secretary General of CARICOM, Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, and Chair of CARICOM, Dr Keith Mitchell, indicating that their first responders are all on standby subject to requests from national offices in affected islands.  
 
Hurricane Irma formed in the Atlantic during the week of August 25 and rapidly grew from a tropical disturbance to a major hurricane that now creates an unprecedented multi-state threat to potentially nine of the 18 CDEMA participating states.   

These include Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas, Dominica, Haiti, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Turks & Caicos Islands and the Virgin Islands.

Hurricane Irma is currently moving west through the Caribbean toward the United States.

So far, it has destroyed homes and flooded streets across a chain of small islands in the northern Caribbean, passing directly over Barbuda and leaving the island of some 1,700 people incommunicado.

France sent emergency food and water rations to the French islands of Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy, where Irma ripped off roofs and knocked out all electricity. Dutch marines who flew to three Dutch islands hammered by Irma reported extensive damage but no deaths or injuries.

By early Wednesday afternoon, the centre of the storm was 20 miles (35 kilometres) east-southeast of St Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and 90 miles (150 kilometres) east of San Juan, Puerto Rico and heading west-northwest at 16 mph (26 kph).

Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said his government was evacuating six islands because authorities would not be able to help anyone caught in the "potentially catastrophic" wind, flooding and storm surge. People there would be flown to Nassau in what he called the largest storm evacuation in the country's history.

The northern parts of the Dominican Republic and Haiti could see 10 inches (25 centimetres) of rain, with as much as 20 inches (50 centimetres) in the southeast Bahamas and Turks and Caicos.

By early Sunday, Irma is expected to hit Florida, where Governor Rick Scott said he planned to activate 7,000 National Guard members by Friday and warned that Irma is "bigger, faster and stronger" than Hurricane Andrew.