Cuba, US brace for Hurricane Irma’s destruction

World Today

Handlers from the Cayo Guillermo dolphinarium prepare dolphins for their transfer to the dolphinarium in Cienfuegos, located on Cuba’s southern coast, just hours before the arrival of Hurricane Irma, Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. Irma spun along the northern coast of Cuba, where thousands of tourists were evacuated from low-lying keys off the coast dotted with all-inclusive resorts. (Osvaldo Gutierrez Gomez/ACN via AP)

Hurricane Irma is barreling through the Caribbean, and closing in on Cuba, and the United States. Irma is now downgraded to a still powerful Category 4 storm, but it is expected to hit the U.S. mainland back as a dangerous Category 5.

It already devastated several islands, and killed at least 20 people. And officials say it looks like we can expect more destruction to come.

CGTN’s Michael Voss reports from Cuba.

Hurricane Irma is working its way along Cuba’s northern coast. Early Friday, with the eye of the storm still well out to sea, it pounded the town of Baracoa with tropical storm force winds and five meter waves. Low-lying areas are flooded and without electricity.

Preparations continue further along the coast amid fears this region could be hit by strong winds from Hurricane Irma overnight into Saturday morning.

“Everyone is concerned because we want to preserve our property,” said one Cuban resident.

It’s a sparsely populated area with fishing communities and some major tourist resorts, all now empty.

700,000 people have been evacuated—many to shelters, others staying with family or friends. Six dolphins were also evacuated from an aquarium at one of the tourist resorts, flown by helicopter to the safer southern coast.

Everywhere that has taken a direct hit from Hurricane Irma has seen catastrophic destruction.

A number of people have died in this one of the most powerful Atlantic storms ever recorded. The worst casualties were on the French islands of St. Martin and St. Barts.

The U.S. and British Virgin Islands were also in Irma’s direct path where a number of people were killed.

Puerto Rico escaped the worst. The storm passed offshore but it still left a million people without electricity and several dead.

The tiny island of Barbuda was nearly destroyed. All the schools, hospital, hotels and most homes were either damaged or lay in ruins. Now they are about to be hit again.

There is a second powerful hurricane, Jose, heading towards the same Antilles islands that Irma hit a few days ago. It could arrive as early as Saturday morning. This is the first time since records began that there are two hurricanes with winds topping nearly 250 kilometers per hour in the region at the same time.