Hurricane Irma devastates Caribbean, is expected to hit Florida
Hurricane Irma has lashed the Turks and Caicos Islands, a British overseas territory, after causing widespread destruction across the Caribbean that's left at least 14 people dead. Irma is a category five hurricane, the highest possible level for a hurricane, and has wind speeds of 280km/h. The hurricane is projected to reach Cuba before making its way to the US state of Florida.
Several areas, including those far inland in the Turks and Caicos Islands, have been inundated by floods caused by storm surges and rainfall. Irma also caused some damage and flooding in Haiti, whose infrastructure is still recovering from the devastating 2010 earthquake. Meanwhile, in Cuba, thousands of tourists from coastal resorts have been evacuated in preparation of Hurricane Irma.
Nearly 95% of buildings on the small island of Barbuda were damaged by Hurricane Irma. Barbuda is said to be "barely habitable." The St. Martin island has also suffered terrible damage, leaving five people dead. Widespread infrastructure damage has been reported at the US Virgin Islands. Anguilla, a British overseas territory, reportedly looks as if it was hit by a nuclear bomb.
Irma is expected to bring storm surges and flooding once it hits Florida on Sunday as a category four hurricane. Florida Governor Rick Scott said given Irma's size, it "could cause major and life-threatening impacts." Residents and tourists in the resort archipelago of Florida Keys are being evacuated. Flights heading to and from airports across Florida are being suspended.
Hurricane Jose, another storm in the Atlantic behind Irma, has been upgraded to category three status. It may pass close to several areas that have already faced severe weather. Meanwhile, Katia, a storm in the Gulf of Mexico, has been upgraded to hurricane status.