As several Caribbean islands recover from the destruction left by Hurricane Irma, they’re also rushing to brace themselves for the approaching Hurricane Jose.
While Hurricane Jose has weakened, it remains an aggressive Category 4 storm. The National Hurricane Centre has warned that Jose’s maximum sustained wind speeds are 145 mph (230 kph), and that the storm will likely pass just north of the northern Leeward Islands on Saturday.
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The British and U.S. Virgin Islands will likely experience tropical-storm-type weather, though they’ve already been hit hard this week by Hurricane Irma. There is a hurricane watch in effect for the Caribbean island of Barbuda, where the hurricane centre says the eye of Jose will pass Saturday afternoon.
A NASA satellite recently revealed that Jose will likely miss the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, though there was much fear that these areas would be be directly in its path.
CNN reported earlier on Saturday afternoon that a “dangerous” storm surge with “large and destructive waves” would raise water levels by over two feet in the at-risk areas. Irma hit Barbuda on Wednesday, damaging 95 per cent of the buildings in the region, said Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda. The report states that he estimated it could cost up to $100 million to repair.
“The protection and shelter of people already harshly tested by Irma is the priority,” officials said in a statement. More than 1,100 police, military officials and other personnel have been deployed to both islands to provide help.
A hurricane warning is also in effect for Sint Maarten or St. Martin and St. Barthelemy, also known as St. Barts. Travel to and from St. Martin has been temporarily halted until the storm subsides.
The Dutch government also estimates 70 per cent of houses on St. Martin were badly damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Irma, which leaves up to 40,000 residents reliant on public shelters as they brace for Hurricane Jose.
Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk said Saturday that Jose is forecast to track northwest of St. Martin and will likely dump a lot of rain on buildings, many of which had roofs torn off by Irma.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the situation remains “grim” on the island where widespread looting has broken out.
Rutte says there are some 230 Dutch troops and police patrolling St. Martin and a further 200 will arrive in coming days. Rutte issued a warning to looters that the troops and police will clamp down hard to end the lawlessness.
Many of those already impacted by Irma fled the islands on ferries and fishing boats as Jose drew near.
“My concern today is that because of Hurricane Jose, we are going to have another period in which transport won’t be operating,” French Health Minister Agnès Buzyn told French TV.
Despite the cleanup efforts underway in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, residents and officials are concerned that Jose could draw the recovery period out even further.
— With files from the Associated Press
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