Hurricane Irma Tears Through Caribbean, Devastating Region En Route to Florida

At least 18 people have been killed.

Gerben Van Es/AP

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

Hurricane Irma, the strongest hurricane on record to hit the Atlantic Ocean, tore through several islands in the Caribbean on Thursday, destroying 95 percent of St. Martin, leaving more than 1 million in Puerto Rico without power, and damaging 95 percent of the properties on the island of Barbuda.

At least 18 people have been killed across the region. That number is expected to climb, as officials assess the storm’s destruction in the days ahead.

Irma weakened to a Category 4 storm, but the National Hurricane Center is warning that the situation remains life-threatening, especially as rising waters from the coastline move inland. 

“Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions,” the center said in a statement Friday. “Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials.”

“It’s an absolute devastation,” Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said while describing the destruction. “This is no hyperbole.”

The storm is now heading straight for the United States and is likely to make landfall on Saturday in Florida, where evacuations have taken place over the past few days. In Miami-Dade County, 650,000 people were ordered to leave—the largest evacuation order in the region’s history. Experts predict Irma will cause far more damage than Hurricane Andrew, the 1992 storm that left 65 people dead and destroyed 63,000 homes. 

“Hurricane Andrew is one of the worst storms in the history of Florida,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said on Wednesday. “This is much worse and more devastating on its current path.”

Mandatory evacuations have also been ordered in Georgia’s coastal areas

As with Hurricane Harvey only a week before, President Donald Trump on Friday tweeted about the storm’s potential to break records and cheered on first responders. 

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate