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Barbuda Put on Map by Irma, Perhaps Taken Off by Jose

Barbuda Put on Map by Irma, Perhaps Taken Off by Jose
Hurricane Jose getting ready to hit Barbuda on Saturday after Hurricane Irma practically destroyed it on Wednesday.(screengrab posted video)

By    |   Saturday, 09 September 2017 03:26 PM

Barbuda, the tiny Caribbean idyll now known to millions of hurricane trackers because it was one of the first places hit by Category 5 Irma, may just be a smear of total desolation after Category 4 Jose delivers its follow-up punch on Saturday.

The middle Leeward Island’s moderate climate has made it a tourist destination, but a relatively limited one beyond a small airport, ferry service to Antigua, and a few resorts because of previous tropical storms and hurricanes, and it’s questionable how it will bounce back from the 1-2 punch from Hurricanes Irma and Jose.

Early last Wednesday morning, Irma slammed directly into the island with 185 mph winds, destroying 90 percent of its structures, FOX News said.

On Saturday, a hurricane warning was again in effect for Barbuda, CNN reported, as Jose was expected to slam into the island in the afternoon with maximum sustained winds near 150 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Any of Baruba’s 1,800 residents who didn't already flee Irma were being evacuated before Jose by a flotilla of ferries being sent from Antigua, the other major island in the nation of Antigua and Barbuda, CNN said.

Gaston Browne, prime minister of Barbuda and Antigua, told ABS TV/Radio Antigua that Barbuda already was “barely habitable” from Irma. Browne said at the time the pre-Jose cost to repair infrastructure and homes there would be at least $150 million.

“That is no exaggeration,” Browne said. “It is just total devastation. Barbuda is literally a rubble.”

Actor Robert De Niro is a principal in the Paradise Found Nobu Resort in Barbuda with Australian billionaire media mogul James Packer, People magazine reported, and he said he will help the island rebuild.

“We are beyond saddened to learn of the devastation in Barbuda caused from Hurricane Irma and look forward to working with the Paradise Found Nobu Resort team, the Barbuda Council, GOAB and the entire Barbuda community to successfully rebuild what nature has taken away from us,” De Niro said in a statement to People.

That was before Hurricane Jose.

The extent of damage to the resort remained unclear as communication and access to the island remains difficult.

Browne said getting supplies delivered to residents was “a challenge. It was difficult to send in any boats there today because things are still very dangerous.”

CNN said drone footage over Barbuda on Friday showed nearly every house and building ripped open or torn apart.

"Total destruction, honestly," said one Barbuda resident, after evacuating to Antigua. "It's like someone threw an explosive."

CNN's Leyla Santiago toured Barbuda on Friday and described "pure destruction."

"It is desolate. People are overwhelmed," she said. "The priority now is not so much to save what Irma left behind, (it's) more so to save lives. They're trying to get people out."

John Lovell, president of Travel Leaders Network leisure group and hotels, said if the reports of destruction on some islands that he’s been hearing are true, recovery will take a long time, Skift reported.

“But I think it’s really early to talk about some of these islands since we’re still waiting to re-establish communications with partners in a few cases,” Lovell said. “We expect on Monday and Tuesday for more assessments to start coming out of Caribbean destinations.”

How and when different islands recover from Irma and Jose will determine when and if cruise ships return to them.

Together, Barbuda and more substantial Antigua are second among Caribbean islands dependent on cruise ship tourism, Skift said, but the amount spent there dwarfs other bigger islands. Cruise ship tourists spend about $50 million a year between them, providing about about five percent of GDP.

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Barbuda, the tiny Caribbean idyll now known to millions of hurricane trackers because it was one of the first places hit by Category 5 Irma, may just be a smear of total desolation after Category 4 Jose delivers its follow-up punch on Saturday.
barbuda, irma, jose
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2017-26-09
Saturday, 09 September 2017 03:26 PM
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