Caribbean Update: What's Damaged, What's Not After Hurricanes Irma & Maria

by  Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | Sep 19, 2017
Hurricane Irma
Hurricane Irma / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

This article was last updated on Friday, October 6.

Stormy times have beset the Caribbean region, both literally and figuratively. The region is accustomed to surviving hurricane season, which officially runs from June through November but the risky peak times are August through late October, with an average of six hurricanes, according to the National Weather Service. The winds, rains, and occasional re-building brought by previous hurricanes did nothing to prepare Caribbean residents for the monster that was Hurricane Irma. A Category 5 hurricane that currently ranks as the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane ever recorded outside the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea, it battered and flooded a large swath of the Caribbean, devastating many areas that are popular with travelers. Then Hurricane Maria came right behind it, causing even more damage. Here’s an overview of islands that have been damaged by Irma and Maria, and those that were unscathed:

Islands Not Impacted By Hurricanes Irma and Maria

  • Jamaica
  • Aruba
  • Curacao
  • St.Lucia
  • Barbados
  • The Cayman Islands
  • Grenada
  • Haiti
  • Trinidad & Tobago

Islands Minimally Impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria

The Bahamas: Hotels, airports, and marinas are open on Nassau and Grand Bahama as well as most out islands. Most of the damage from Hurricane Irma happened on the small southern out islands. 

Antigua: The island only experienced some minor wind damage in Hurricane Irma. Although the entire population of Barbuda has been evacuated to Antigua, all hotels and airports are open.

The Dominican Republic: The island did experience some structural damage, flooding, and fallen trees in Hurricane Maria. The country's major tourist destinations, including Punta Cana, Santo Domingo, Puerto Plata, and Samana are operating normally.

Islands Impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Turks & Caicos: There was major damage to hotels and roads during Hurricane Irma. Just as rebuilding started and the airport  re-opened, the core of Hurricane Maria passed about 90 miles north of Grand Turk Island on Friday, Sept. 22, bringing an estimated 16 inches of rain to the islands.

Cuba: The north coast of the island received a lot of wind damage from Hurricane Irma, mostly in Los Cayos. Wind damage, power outages, and major flooding in Havana has made travel difficult although some hotels are open.

St. Croix: Largely unscathed by Irma, the western and southwestern areas of the island were damaged by Maria, and much of its power is down. The island's medical center was breached and patients were evacuated.

St. Kitts and Nevis: While Nevis is mostly without damage following hurricane Maria, there is some damage to structures and roads on St. Kitts. 

Islands Severely Impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria

Anguilla: Most of the island’s buildings were damaged or wiped out in Hurricane Irma. The airport is open only for emergency flights carrying supplies. Clean-up, renovations, and rebuilding has started all over the island.

Dominica: After the island was battered by Hurricane Maria, its prime minister posted an impassioned plea for help on Facebook stating that nearly the entire island had been destroyed. 

Puerto Rico: This American territory was mostly spared any major damage from Hurricane Irma, but the eye of Hurricane Maria made a direct hit on this island. Weeks later, Puerto Rico is still facing a humanitarian crisis in which millions are without power and many wait hours in line for gas, ice, and cash.

St. Thomas: There was sweeping damage all over the island after Hurricane Irma, with many residents in shelters or evacuated to the U.S. mainland. The tourism board of the U.S. Virgin Islands is discouraging visitors from coming at this time. 

St. John: The smallest and most remote of the U.S. Virgin Islands was stripped of most of its signature beauty by Hurricane Irma as trees and parks have been demolished. Half of the population has evacuated. As with St. Thomas, the tourism board of the U.S. Virgin Islands is discouraging visitors from coming at this time. 

Barbuda: This idyllic, tiny island had 95% of its structures knocked down and all of its population evacuated after Hurricane Irma.

St. Martin/St.Maarten: Battered into a heap of cracked facades and uprooted trees by Hurricane Irma, the shared French and Dutch island has very little water or power.

St. Barts: The former luxury playground has been reduced to bent palm trees and rubble by Hurricane Irma but reports that electricity and water have been restored mean that rebuilding will begin soon.

British Virgin Islands: Large-scale destruction from Hurricane Irma has wiped out most of the island’s infrastructure but re-building has already started. The islands were spared the worst from Hurricane Maria but received high winds and rain.

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