The Category 5 hurricane’s maximum sustained winds lessened from 185 miles per hour to 180 miles per hour, though the National Hurricane Center noted the storm was still “extremely risky”.
Not all the news was bad. For Walmart, which has about 18 stores in Puerto Rico, the agency activated social media to keep consumers informed about how long stores will stay open and what basic supplies like water are still in stock. Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share the island of Hispaniola, were also spared direct hits. “Irma is expected cause risky winds, storm surge, rip currents and rainfall impacts across the local islands”.
“There are shipwrecks everywhere, destroyed houses everywhere, torn-off roofs everywhere”, the president of the French territorial council on St. Martin, Daniel Gibbs, told Radio Caraïbes global.
The huge Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
While the flight missed the wrath of the hurricane, those on the island were not as fortunate. More than 1 million customers were without power Thursday, and a little more than half of the hospitals were functional. The decades-long history of loans and a total crushing $9 billion debt has put the island in a position where it can not borrow more money for reparations. It knocked out power to about 70 percent of the island and killed at least three people but the island escaped the large-scale devastation seen on nearby Barbuda and St. Martin.
“Our meteorology team is the best in the business”, he said.
And Delta said St. Thomas and St. Maarten airports remain closed due to damage, and its flights there are canceled for Thursday and Friday, with more schedule changes possible dependent on the status of the airports.
“Irmageddon” was the front-page headline Thursday of French daily Libération, as the most violent cyclone to strike the Antilles in the region’s history struck the island of Barbuda and the French territories of St. Martin and St. Barthélemy, leveling nearly every building in its path.
Buildings have been “ravaged”, he said, and many roads have been destroyed.
Floridians have expressed worry over the storm, CNN reported.