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TTC Special. Hurricane Irma: The Caribbean Under Attack

TTC Special: Hurricane Irma: The Caribbean Under Attack

Photo: trendobjects/123rf

By F. Martin

TTC Service.- Hurricane Irma suddenly broke the tranquility of a peaceful September in the Caribbean and broke in a core way some islands of the region not only tourist industries, but also its societies and economies.

“There’s nothing left” in the British Virgin Islands devastated by Irma, according to journalist Justin McCurry, from BST service.

The powerful Caribbean cyclone isolated islands of St Barts, St Martin, Anguilla and the British and the Virgin Islands group, leaving 22 people dead. In London, the foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, announced a package of £42m ($55m) for the relief effort in the British territories of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Turks & Caicos.

“The UK government is doing everything it possibly can to help those affected by the hurricane,” Johnson said, according to McCurry.

On Tueday 12 while flights to the Dominican Republic have resumed after Hurricane Irma, flights by some airlines to Quebec travel hotspots have been cancelled into November.

The Canadian press reported that “Airlines that cater to Quebecers heading south appear to be scrambling to deal with the impact of the storm, increasing flights to some destinations, while taking a wait-and-see attitude toward cancellations for others”.

“It’s kind of too soon to know what’s going to happen, we still need a couple of days, and maybe weeks, to figure out what will be the final consequences of Irma on those different destinations,” said Annie Gauthier, a spokesperson for CAA-Quebec, the non-profit roadside assistance provider that also sells international travel packages and travel insurance.

For its part Canadian Sunwing Airlines said it has cancelled all flights to Cuba, with the exception of Manzanillo, until Sept. 14, while flights to Saint Martin have been cancelled until Nov. 9.

“To accommodate travellers from Montreal whose flights have been cancelled, “we have added extra flight services to Cancun and will be adding more destinations over the coming days to offer customers alternatives,” said Jacqueline Grossman, a spokesperson for the airline.

Sunwing is also offering refunds to people who booked all-inclusive packages directly through the company if their flight is cancelled. Air Transat has resumed flying to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, while flights to Puerto Plata and Samana will operate as scheduled later this week, said Debbie Cabana, a spokesperson for the airline.

Several cruise ship companies operating out of Florida have cancelled sailings and altered destinations and schedules. Royal Caribbean cancelled cruises to Cuba and the Bahamas scheduled for this week. Passengers will have their fares refunded or can book on another cruise. Norwegian Cruise Lines is moving its Eastern Caribbean sailings to a Western Caribbean itinerary until November. Passengers will be notified of the changes.

Cuba emerged from a 72-hour thrashing by Hurricane Irma on Monday with three-quarters of the population without power, as the country began the task of restoring basic infrastructure and services.

A death toll of 10 made this the deadliest hurricane to strike the island since Dennis in 2005, and authorities said that provisional figure could rise.

The civil defense organization said most of the country’s provinces had reported “serious destruction” to the agricultural sector.

For the Caribbean, Hurricane Irma has been a monster that has cut its way especially in the tourist industry. The Category 5 storm, which killed at least 28 people across the region, devastated housing, power supplies and communications, leaving some small islands almost cut off from the world.

U.S President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration for Puerto Rico, where Irma killed at least 3 people and left hundreds of thousands without electricity. Trump also expanded federal funds available to the U.S. Virgin Islands, which suffered extensive damage to homes and infrastructure.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the death toll on the Dutch part of St. Martin had doubled to four, and that 70 percent of homes had been damaged or destroyed.