The islands in the Caribbean have been decimated by Irma, an historically strong Category 5 hurricane, which impacted some 37 million people. The storm first hit in the Lesser Antilles and moved on through Florida, causing massive amounts of destruction in its path. Barbuda is almost uninhabitable, the British Virgin Islands has no power, and St. Barts is nearly cut off and isolated from the outside world. Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands were also seriously damaged by the storm, which then moved up the length of Florida. There are 37 reported deaths from the hurricane in the Caribbean to date. The conditions experienced by the Caribbean islands are described below, along with links to relief organizations that are working to restore the region and help the affected populations.
Antigua & Barbuda
Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne has said the island is “nearly uninhabitable” and “literally rubble.” He estimates the damage at some $100 million. Residents are being evacuated to Antigua, which was not hit as hard by Hurricane Irma. More than 95 percent of the structures on Barbuda are demolished, and the island needs major support. Do make donations to the recovery of Antigua and Barbuda, visit the Antigua/Barbuda Red Cross and also the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism website.
British Virgin Islands
Homes and infrastructure destroyed by Hurricane Irma must be rebuilt in the British Virgin Islands, which is experiencing a state of emergency. Prominent resident Richard Branson is heading a “Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan” in partnership with the British Red Cross and the government of the UK to rebuild homes, restore power and get clean water and food to residents. To help, make a donation at Virgin Unite, Unite BVI and Virgin Limited Edition
Cuba and the capital Havana were especially hard hit by the force of Hurricane Irma. The city experienced serious flooding, and smaller coastal cities like Caibarién on the North Coast are completely covered with several feet of water. To help Cuba recover, contact the GlobalGiving’s Hurricane Irma Relief Fund
At the height of the storm, 70 percent of Puerto Rico lost power, and while the nation avoided the decimation of other islands, almost a million residents are still without power. Help the residents of Puerto Rico through the local nonprofit National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, which is also registering volunteers to help in Puerto Rico and other areas affected by Irma. Contact Puerto Rico Real-time Recovery Fund
and/or Hurricane Irma Response Puerto Rico
St. Martin and St. Barts
The famous Princess Juliana International Airport in St. Martin was deumolished by the hurricane, and St. Barts faces the job of re-establishing connections to the outside world, since Irma cut off all its communications. St. Barts depends on its daily air-cargo shipments from France, which come through St. Martin, but the storm has left the island stranded. St. Barts and St. Martin have no electricity, running water, or fuel. Frans has shipped 40 generators to the region and tens of thousands of tons of bottled water. To help St. Barts and St. Martin, you can donate here
U.S. Virgin Islands — St. John, St. Thomas, and St. Croix
The greatest Hurricane Irma damage was experienced by St. John and St. Thomas, which have no power, running water, or cell phone service. St. Croix is center of relief efforts as the other two islands are unsafe. The only hospital in St. Thomas had a “catastrophic failure.” To help the US Virgin Islands, Tim Duncan, a retired NBA star, has already pledged $250,000 to the recovery effort and promises to match other donations up to the first $1 million. To make a donation to aid the USVI, visit St. John Rescue Inc.
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