Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Irma Strikes Antigua - 119mph Winds, Minimal Damage

The first landfall for Hurricane Irma over night was the island of Antigua in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbean.

The Antigua Observer reports no deaths so far but three went to the local hospital for minor medical attention. Communication with nearby Barbuda has been lost after 12:30 a.m. with reports that several buildings had damaged roofs including the police station. Winds were reported at 119 mph with gusts at 150.

The Observer says preliminary reports indicate minimal damage across the islands so far.

Other reports from the Observer: "There were several reports of roof damage in Antigua – in areas like Crosbies, Fort Road, Clare Hall, Grays Farm and Pigotts – four roofs completely off.

"In St George District – An access-way into Barnes Hill had to be cleared by removing a portion of a tree that fell across the road. In St Phillip South, they are in the process of making a quick assessment and will get an update on that.

"In Freetown and Bethesda, a few trees and telephone lines are down. In the Hodges Bay are few poles and telephone wires are down. There was a report of a roof in the road close to Sunnyside and downed trees There was also a report of a container fire on Friars Hill Road. The Fire Department extinguished the fire. Police conducted rescue operations in Crosbies, Fort Road and Whenner Road."

UPDATE: At 12:30 p.m.the Observer reports that main roads have been cleared of the debris of fallen trees and the V C Bird International Airport will be open by 2pm (Eastern Standard Time) Wednesday to accommodate arriving and departing aircraft and passengers. Visitors are encouraged to contact airlines and tour operators if their flights were affected.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne, in a statement earlier today, said that “the work that the Government initiated in advance of the storm paid remarkable dividends. The drains, gutters and reservoirs that were cleared in advance, ensured that the island experienced no flooding, hence eliminating the possibility of water-borne disease.

“The essential point is that our main infrastructure has stood-up and our country can resume normal life within hours”. Asot Michael, the country’s Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy said. “All our visitors remained safe during Hurricane Irma. The island’s Hotels suffered only minimal damage and have already commenced clean-up operations”.

Conditions on Barbuda are not fully clear as yet, but preliminary reports indicate no loss of life and only some damage to private property and one Government facility. Minister Michael indicated that he would be travelling to Barbuda today to assess damage that will be addressed immediately.

“The important take away from all this is that Antigua and Barbuda remains open for business and is already resuming normal life including welcoming visitors to enjoy our little bit of paradise which God continues to protect”, the Minister concluded.

At 8 a.m. Wednesday the category 5 storm was over the island of Anguilla and moving towards the north side of the British Virgin Islands. At noon a wind gust of 87 mph (141 km/h) has recently been reported at St.Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The center is about 125 miles east of San Juan Puerto Rico.

Courtesy: and National Hurricane Center

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