Barbuda Devastated, State of Emergency Declared

The twin island state of Antigua & Barbuda was affected by Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record, on September 6, 2017.

With winds measuring up to 185mph, Antigua was spared of any devastation and only suffered minor damages, flash floods and loss of vegetation as the hurricane made a wnw, 280° turn and moved closer to Barbuda.

Barbuda, the sister Island to Antigua was completely devastated during the passage of Hurricane Irma.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne who visited Barbuda via helicopter of Wednesday afternoon, in an interview on State Media said that what he saw was heart wrenching and absolutely devastating.

The PM said that He did a aerial surveillance and in his opinion about 95% of properties in Barbuda were completely Destroyed or Damaged. He said all utility infrastructures are damaged and the island is literally under water.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that Antigua & Barbuda now faces another hurricane threat as hurricane Jose nears the islands.

“If that is the case and Jose will be coming our way, we will have to evacuate the residents of Barbuda”

Prime Minister Browne, said that Barbuda is barely inhabitable and special arrangements have to be made to evacuate all Barbudans until some level of normality is restored.

PM Browne estimates the damage on Barbuda, where he says 1,800 people live, to be about $150 million

“What is instructive is that a difference of 30 to 50 miles involving a hurricane could make a major difference because whereas we in Antigua may have had wind strengths up to about 130 miles per hour, Barbuda evidently would have had 180 – 185 miles per hour and that has made a fundamental difference,” PM Browne explained.

PM Browne, said that Within the next 18 hours there will mobilization of a significant amount of resources to send over to Barbuda to provide temporary relief, he also explained that there is only one satellite phone on the island as communications are still down and one of the telecommunications tower was broken in two.

Executive director of the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), said they are still gathering details on the full extent of the devastation caused by Irma

The Director said full details from the British Virgin Islands at the time of the press conference was unknown. The eye passed directly over Tortola and significant needs being generated by the impact of the most severe aspects of the storm is anticipated.

“We expect to see significant damage as a result,” he said, adding that CDEMA is now working to deploy teams into Antigua, hopefully by Thursday “mindful that our plans may be varied somewhat by the fast advancing storm Jose, which is moving within the wake of Irma and showing some signs that it could move along similar path.

“This means that there is a potential for secondary impacts for the north Leeward Islands (and) that is being factored into our plans for the moment, but for now we are hoping to deploy into Antigua as our focal point to serve the needs Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands from that point”.

He said even as the teams are being deployed “we are turning our attention, positioning teams to respond to potential impacts in Turks and Caicos Islands, the Bahamas.

“Already we have on standby military engineers and doctors to respond to the needs of Turks and Caicos and Bahamas,” he said, adding that relief supplies are also being mobilised.

The Cabinet of Antigua & Barbuda declared a state of emergency following the devastation of Barbuda.

subsection (1) of section 2 of the Emergency Powers (Hurricane, Earthquake, Fire or Flood) Act, Cap. 148 states that it shall be lawful for the Cabinet after the occurrence in Antigua and Barbuda of a hurricane, earthquake, fire or flood, to declare by proclamation in the Gazette that a state of emergency exists.

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