Libération — Sept. 7, 2017

Hurricane Irma has wreaked destruction across the Caribbean, and the situation is about to get worse.

“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 almost every building in its path. The storm is now en route to Florida, via Puerto Rico.

Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said 95% of the buildings on Barbuda were damaged in some way, calling the island “barely habitable” anymore. St. Martin’s airport, the third-largest in the Caribbean, has been completely destroyed. Many flights to and from the Caribbean have been canceled, and tourists are being evacuated from the Florida Keys archipelago.

Irma is picking up speed and strength as it heads steadily toward the U.S. It is projected to pass by Haiti and Cuba in the coming days and to touch down in Florida by the weekend. Experts tracking the storm say its path is not fixed and have warned residents of neighboring areas to remain cautious. The U.S. government has called states of emergency in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Irma is trailed by two other hurricanes: Jose, expected to pass through places Irma has already affected, and Katia, coming in from the Gulf of Mexico.


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