Hurricane Irma: What we know about the devastation caused by the monster storm
Hurricane Irma tore a stunning path of destruction across the Caribbean and Florida as one of the strongest Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded demolished buildings, flooded streets and left a mounting death toll in its wake.
Officials and residents in Florida are beginning to taking stock of the damage left by Irma that lashed the state as a Category 4 storm with the Florida Keys being the worst hit.
“I just hope everybody survived,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott told reporters during a press conference Monday. “It’s horrible what we saw. Especially for the Keys, it’s going to be a long road.”
While some parts of the U.S. are still cleaning up after Hurricane Harvey last month, here is a look at the destruction left by Irma and what comes next for those in Florida and the Caribbean.
13 million without power
As of Tuesday morning, a stunning 13 million people across the state of Florida are without power. As Irma weakened to a tropical storm and began to move inland, more than 1.5 million customers in Georgia and 220,000 in South Carolina had lost power.
Canadian power crews from the Maritimes and Ontario are heading to Florida to help restore power to millions whose homes went dark during the storm.
Nova Scotia Power and its parent company Emera are also sending 24 workers to Tampa on Tuesday to assist with major restoration efforts. Hydro One said it’s sending 175 employees and Toronto Hydro says it sent nearly 30 employees to help relieve exhausted workers.
WATCH: Florida devastated by Hurricane Irma
Fortis Inc., based in St.John’s Newfoundland, sent nearly 60 people from its operations across the country to Turks and Caicos on Sunday to help restore power.
More than 180,000 people are still in shelters in the Sunshine State and officials have warned it could take weeks for electricity to be restored to everyone.
At the height of the storm 6.5 million people were ordered to evacuate from Florida, the largest evacuation in modern U.S. history.
Death toll rises to at least 48
Irma has been blamed for at least six deaths in Florida three in Georgia and one in South Carolina. The storm was deadliest in the Caribbean where at least 38 people were killed.
In Cuba, 10 people were killed according to officials with local media reporting most deaths occurred in Havana.
Meanwhile, the number of people killed after Harvey has risen to at least 70 according to Houston-area officials.
The storm caused record flooding in the Jacksonville area, with the sheriff’s office stating that 356 people were rescued from the floodwaters on Monday.
Irma was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone and is expected to bring heavy rain to the Carolinas, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.
Could Irma top $100B in damages?
Catastrophe modeling business AIR Worldwide has estimated that insured damages in the United States could be between US$15 billion to US$50-billion, or $20 billion to $65 billion if the Caribbean islands are included.
The Dutch Red Cross said Tuesday that nearly one-third of the buildings in St. Martin have been destroyed, while the prime minister of Barbuda has said 95 per cent of the buildings are destroyed.
Another estimate from the climate forecaster AccuWeather has said the economic cost of Hurricane Irma in the United States alone will come in at around US$100 billion and the total combined economic impact with Harvey will reach nearly US$300 billion.
“That is extraordinary by itself,” Dr. Joel N. Myers, AccuWeather founder, president and chairman, said in a statement.
“We believe the damage estimate from Irma to be about $100 billion, among the costliest hurricanes of all time,” Myers said. “We estimated that Hurricane Harvey is to be the costliest weather disaster in U.S. history at $190 billion.”
How is Canada helping?
The Canadian government announced Sunday it would be deploying a disaster assessment team to Antigua to evaluate how Canada can provide humanitarian assistance to the region. Ottawa could deploy its Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), made up of members of the military and civilians from Global Affairs Canada. The DART can head anywhere in the world on short notice to perform lifesaving tasks like water purification, primary medical care and engineering help.
Global Affairs, in co-ordination with Canadian airlines WestJet and Air Canada, helped rescue those affected by Irma in St. Maarten and Turks and Caicos.
“We are working very, very hard to bring you home,” Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday.
Aid begins to head to Florida
The U.S. military has sent an aircraft carrier to Key West to help in search-and-rescue efforts, while drinking water supplies in the Keys are urgently needed and fuel was running low and all three hospitals in the island chain remain closed.
For those looking to donate, ProPublica has published an article for tips to remember when giving after a disaster. They include doing your own research before donating, giving locally and always demanding accountability.
While major charities like the Red Cross and UNICEF are collecting donations, there others helping with Irma relief: Oxfam, All Hands Volunteers, Salvation Army, Volunteer Florida, Americares, Volunteer Florida, United Way, and the South Florida Wildlife Center.
— With files from the Associated Press and Reuters
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