AS if Hurricane Irma had not done more than enough damage that the Caribbean can undo in years to come, another devastating threat looms as Hurricane Jose, the third major hurricane of this year’s Atlantic Hurricane season.
By now, the tiny island of Barbuda has become somewhat of a metaphor for what decimation by the natural forces can look like. There, more than 95% of homes have been affected by Hurricane Irma, which unleashed her fury earlier this week. Many of the homes were completely destroyed while others suffered lesser damages, such as their roofs being blown off.
The more than 1,800 Barbudans affected are still coming to grips with their losses – both in terms of property and one life claimed by Hurricane Irma’s fury. Antigua and Barbudan Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, has described Barbuda’s current condition as “literally rubble” and “barely habitable”.
But Irma’s destructive path was not limited to Barbuda. In fact, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico were also on the hit-list, with more than a million people in the latter suffering from power outages. Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands also had their share of Irma’s wrath. Florida, too, is bracing for a heavy landfall.
By yesterday, Hurricane Jose had strengthened to a Category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds near 140 miles per hour, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said. Located east of the Leeward Islands at the time, it was forecast to move west-northwest into the Atlantic Ocean in the next few days. That reality prompted hurricane watches to come into effect in Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Martin, and St. Bart’s – already battered by Hurricane Irma. The picture becomes grimmer as Hurricane Katia is set to make landfall in Mexico this weekend.
For now, Saint Lucia seems to have been spared the devastating effects of this year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season. However, the after-effects elsewhere remain our concerns nonetheless. That is why we must continue to count our blessings, including but not limited to, showing our kindheartedness to our brothers and sisters in neighbouring territories who are still grappling with their losses. As small as it is, each of us must make a valiant effort to assist them because we, too, have benefitted from their benevolence in the past and might need it again.
According to the NHC, Hurricane Jose was supposed to fluctuate in terms of intensity within a day or so and weaken after that. That’s great news for the region as citizens long for this year’s Atlantic Hurricane Season to come to a peaceful end.