Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hurricane Irma Makes Landfall in Florida Keys (VIDEO)

At WSJ, "Hurricane Irma Makes Landfall Over Florida Keys (UPDATES)."

And, "Irma Leaves Battered Caribbean in Its Wake":

Hurricane Irma left widespread human and economic havoc in a string of tourism dependent Caribbean islands as the storm pulsed into Florida on Sunday.

Irma departed the last of those islands, Cuba, by Sunday morning after scraping along its northern coast. Buildings collapsed, trees and power lines tumbled, and roofs flew away in the 130-mile-per-hour winds.

Rain and seawater flooded towns and cities, including the colonial center of Havana, the country’s capital and a key tourist magnet. Communications were cut off, power was down and infrastructure was damaged in some affected parts of the island.

No deaths have yet been reported in Cuba, as authorities evacuated thousands of residents and tourists ahead of Irma´s arrival. But the hurricane killed at least 22 others across the northern Caribbean in four days of torment.

The storm’s damage comes just a few months before the beginning of the winter tourism season, which last year pumped $56 billion into the regional economy and provided 725,000 jobs, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council, an international industry group.

But Irma affected only a portion of the Caribbean. And while severe on some islands, the storm’s destruction was negligible in others, according to an early assessment by the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

Damage so far appears to have been heaviest in St. Martin’s and nearby islands in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. And the storm’s impact still hasn’t been fully assessed in Cuba. Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic seem to largely have been spared.

“For the countries that are badly affected, it will take some time to get back on their feet,” Hugh Riley, an official with Caribbean Tourism Organization, said early Sunday.

The affected islands caught a break Saturday when Hurricane Jose, a Category 4 storm that had been on track to follow Irma’s path, turned to the north without making a Caribbean landfall.

Irma began its rampage far to the east of Cuba on Wednesday, tearing in the small two-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda in the northern Leeward Islands. Antigua, the larger of the two, was mostly spared by the storm...