Hurricane Irma disaster in USA, Caribbean


This video from the USA says about itself:

Hurricane Irma brings devastation to the Florida Keys

11 September 2017

ABC News’ Amy Robach gives a firsthand look at damage from Irma in the Keys, where cars are buried in sand, boats are on roads and homes are nearly destroyed.

By Patrick Martin in the USA:

Millions face devastation from Hurricane Irma in southwest Florida, Tampa metro area

11 September 2017

Hurricane Irma came ashore in southwest Florida Sunday late afternoon, with winds exceeding 120 mph hitting Naples, Ft. Myers and other Gulf Coast communities. A storm surge estimated at 15 feet or more hit Marco Island, an affluent area near Naples.

So powerful was the storm that wind speed instruments in both Naples and Marco Island were destroyed.

As of this writing, high winds have begun to blow in the Tampa metropolitan area, population 3 million, with the hurricane bearing down on the area and expected to hit around 2 a.m. Monday morning. Although the hurricane has been downgraded, authorities expect the Tampa Bay area to be hit with damaging winds from 75-100 mph, along with storm surges in the low-lying area.

Some 7 million people are without electric power throughout the state, according to Florida Power & Light, including nearly ten thousand crammed into a shelter at Germain Arena in Estero, near Naples, where there were long lines to gain admission on Saturday.

More than 100,000 people are in shelters across the state, and in the Tampa metropolitan area shelters were totally full and closed to late arrivals. The Tampa-St. Petersburg area has not been struck directly by a hurricane in nearly a century.

Heavy flooding was reported in the Florida Keys, where the storm first made landfall on the US mainland early Sunday morning, and along the Atlantic Coast, including Miami and Ft. Lauderdale.

While Miami and cities further north along the Atlantic were spared a direct hit by the center of the storm, Irma is so extensive that it spread across the entire peninsula, producing storm surges from the Atlantic Ocean as well as the Gulf of Mexico.

High winds collapsed at least two tower cranes on constructions sites in downtown Miami, although no one was reported injured in either incident. A tornado was reported near the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale International Airport.

In response to a request from Florida Governor Rick Scott, the White House declared the entire state a disaster area. This was a legal formality, enabling the Federal Emergency Management Agency to begin releasing funds and emergency supplies.

The full dimensions of the disaster will not be known until the brunt of the hurricane has been felt in Tampa-St. Petersburg, as well as the impact on rain, wind and storm surge throughout the state.

One of the key areas of concern is Lake Okeechobee, which supplies water to both the Everglades and much of Florida’s agricultural region. Communities on the edge of the lake are protected by the Herbert Hoover Dike, named after the president under whose administration it was first proposed. The more than 80-year-old earthen structure faces assault from both sides: wind storms on the outer perimeter and rain-fed rising waters on the inner.

The US Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the Hoover Dike as it did the levees around New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina, conducted a controlled release of water from Lake Okeechobee on Saturday, claiming it had lowered the lake level sufficiently to ensure against flooding. Governor Scott nonetheless ordered the evacuation of seven towns near the lake as a precautionary measure.

While much of the media coverage has been limited to the daily tracking of the storm, virtually nothing has been said about the lack of any serious government measures to protect the population or the deep social divide which has been revealed by the storm.

The Guardian noted that there were “two Irmas,” two experiences of the hurricane: one for the wealthy, for whom it was a mere inconvenience, and one for the poor living in neighborhoods like Miami’s Liberty City, deprived of the means either to escape the storm or to make even minimal preparations to ride it out.

In Miami, police have invoked a reactionary law known as the Baker Act, allowing them to detain anyone believed to pose “a danger to themselves or others” and send them to a mental institution for evaluation, where they can be held for 72 hours against their will. This was being used to round up any of Miami’s more than a thousand homeless people who refused or were unable to go to shelters.

Denise, a resident of Tampa, spoke to the World Socialist Web Site as the storm approached her home and her power was flickering on and off. “They’ve built so much here but none of it has been thought through—it’s backwards. You’ll see multi-million-dollar houses along the water in places like Bayshore. Then a short distance away you’ll find homeless people essentially camping in swampy areas, back behind nice subdivisions, where the city can’t build anything.

“There used to be public housing but it’s all been replaced with condos and stuff that is not affordable. There are no programs to help people, whether you’re working or not working. Tampa has seen an influx of the homeless from Orlando because the tourist industry doesn’t want them there. But Tampa doesn’t want them either—they want yachts, stadiums and luxury houses. There was a story last year about the Tampa police putting a homeless mother with three small children back on the bus and shipping her back to Orlando.”

Like in Houston and New Orleans before it, the hurricane in Florida will hit the working-class and poor residents the hardest. The economic impact of the storm will be especially devastating to the more than 50 percent of Florida homeowners who lack flood insurance. There is an estimated $1.73 trillion in real estate in the path of Hurricane Irma, and even the restricted number of insured will file enough claims to wipe out the reserves of the National Flood Insurance Program, already $25 billion in debt. Thirty percent of all federal flood insurance policy holders live in Florida, the agency said.

More than half of the homeowners in Hurricane Irma’s direct path lack flood insurance, according to a recent study by the Associated Press, highlighting a growing political crisis for lawmakers that is years in the making.

The combined economic impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma could produce a significant downturn in the US economy. Harvey’s cost, estimated at $180 billion or more, amounts to one percent of US GDP. Irma’s cost is expected to be even greater.

Why was American capitalism unable to prepare for Hurricane Irma? Here.

Hurricane Irma completed its passage through the islands of the Caribbean Sea Saturday, slashing along the northern coast of Cuba as a Category 5 storm, the most powerful to strike the country since 1924, before turning north toward the Florida Keys and the US mainland. As it has repeatedly in previous storms, the Cuban government was more successful than any other in the region in conducting an orderly mass evacuation, which took one million people away from the endangered coastal regions along the eastern half of the island: here.

AT LEAST 10 DEAD, OVER 8 MILLION PEOPLE WITHOUT POWER IN THE WAKE OF HURRICANE IRMA Read the latest on the storm, which has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone early Tuesday morning. Here’s what we know about the damage to the Florida Keys. Meanwhile, Hurricane Jose is looming in the Atlantic. [HuffPost]

9 thoughts on “Hurricane Irma disaster in USA, Caribbean

  1. Tuesday 12th September

    posted by Morning Star in World

    CUBA’S capital Havana and the US city of Miami were counting the cost yesterday after Hurricane Irma flooded both with seawater.

    The deadly tropical storm, the strongest since records began, swept inland across the US state of Florida towards Georgia and beyond, weakening to a category-one storm, but still with winds of 85mph.

    Irma made landfall in Florida on Sunday at Cudjoe Key, inundating much of central Miami with seawater swept out of the city’s bays and toppling two static construction cranes there and one in nearby Fort Lauderdale.

    Yesterday, the Cuban National Civil Defence general staff said 10 people had died in the disaster — seven in Havana and one each in Matanzas, Camaguey and Ciego de Avila provinces.

    At least 25 people had already been killed as the monster storm swept across the Caribbean islands. Much of Miami remained underwater yesterday and 3.5 million homes and businesses were left without power.

    In Cuba, the storm sent huge waves crashing over Havana’s Malecon sea wall, flooding the city up to a third of a mile inland.

    Photos taken on Sunday showed locals wading waist-deep — or swimming — through the city streets, sharing food and drink with one another, recovering their belongings and beginning the work of cleaning up as rescue teams fanned out across the city to aid residents.

    The Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist Platform building, across the street from the US embassy, was badly damaged, with a classic Lada saloon car picked up and hurled into it by the sheer force of the storm.

    In the US, President Donald Trump declared the hurricane a federal emergency, freeing up funds as some seven million people were told to flee.

    Meanwhile Congress is mulling over a Trump administration Bill that will slash the budget of disasters agency FEMA by nearly $900 million.

    Today French President Emmanuel Macron is due to fly on a cargo plane loaded with supplies to the colonies of St Martin and St Barts, whose residents have angrily accused the Paris government of abandoning them.

    Nine people died on French St Martin and four in the neighbouring Dutch territory of St Maarten.

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-a5b5-Irma-batters-Cuba-and-Florida-coast#.Wbfr1cZpEdU

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  4. Wednesday 13th September 2017

    posted by James Tweedie in World

    CUBAN President Raul Castro vowed on Monday that the country would recover from the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma.

    Mr Castro said the widespread damage from the monster storm, the strongest since records began, was still being assessed after Irma “battered our island” from Friday to Sunday.

    Despite well-organised civil-defence efforts 10 people died, seven in the capital Havana, where waves topped the famous Malecon sea wall and flooded city streets.

    “The days that are coming will be ones of much work, during which the strength and indestructible confidence in the revolution of Cubans will again be demonstrated,” the president said.

    “This is not a time to mourn but to construct again that which the winds of Irma attempted to destroy,” in the spirit of late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro.

    Mr Castro said the early reports showed a heavy impact on homes, the electrical grid, agriculture and tourist facilities.

    “These have been difficult days for our people, who, in a few hours’ time, have seen what was constructed with great effort hit by a devastating hurricane.”

    But, he said: “In these difficult circumstances, the unity of Cubans has prevailed.”

    Agriculture Ministry command post head Fernando Velazco said the storm caused severe damage to livestock and crops, including 71,000 chickens killed and 5,000 hectares of fields flattened.

    In the eastern city of Holguin, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero echoed Mr Castro’s pledge that the industry would be back on its feet in time for high season.

    He praised workers and managers for keeping more than 2,000 holidaymakers safe during the emergency.

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-4a74-Castro-Cuba-will-recover-from-Irma#.WbkTHsZpEdU

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  6. Wednesday 13th September 2017

    posted by Morning Star in Editorial

    CUBA has often provided a graphic systemic contrast in how a socialist society reacts to human suffering compared with the conduct of more affluent capitalist states.

    Its military volunteers flew to Angola in the 1970s to help defend the country’s independence against invasion by apartheid South Africa’s armed forces while the US and European Union stood by, profiting from their investments that exploited South Africa’s oppressed black workers.

    Cuban medical teams responded without drama to countless overseas disasters — such as earthquakes in Haiti and Pakistan or the Ebola epidemic in West Africa — and have established or improved health systems in dozens of developing countries.

    Their literacy teams and sporting coaches work across the globe in a spirit of solidarity.

    The Latin American School of Medicine in Havana provides free tuition for medical students from the region — and even from deprived areas of the US — in return for their agreement to provide the fruits of their training to poor people in their own countries as a service rather than as a means of self-enrichment.

    Even as Cuba prepared to withstand the violent assault of Hurricane Irma — its category-five status the highest to hit the island for at least 90 years — the government’s thoughts were with its neighbours.

    No fewer than 750 medical professionals flew out to provide solidarity assistance to six regional states — five in the Commonwealth — Antigua & Barbuda, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, Bahamas, Dominica and Haiti.

    Contrast that forward planning with our own government’s tardy response — shamed equally by France and the Netherlands — and the belated dubious gesture of dumping Boris Johnson on the region.

    Irma’s power surpassed even the expectations of Cuba’s civil defence staff , forcing its flood waters deeper inland, devastating housing, tourism facilities, the infrastructure and agriculture.

    Despite all precautions, 10 Cubans died during the three days that Irma laid waste to the island’s eastern and northern coasts.

    President Raul Castro has pledged that national unity, inspired by revolutionary leader Fidel Castro’s historical example of refusing to accept defeat, will inspire Cubans to rebuild their country. He insists that the crucial revenue-earning tourist industry will be restored before high season in less than two months.

    Self-reliance is Cuba’s watchword, but solidarity cannot be a one-way street. It will be “very important for the Cuban people, especially over the coming months,” as Cuban ambassador Teresita Vicente told the Morning Star yesterday.

    Reconstruction, hard as it is, is rendered yet more difficult by “Hurricane Trump’s” heightened aggression at the behest of the Florida-based anti-Cuban lobby.

    The Cuba Solidarity Campaign relief fund publicised in our paper today ( http://mstar.link/IrmaAppeal ) will have a dual capacity in raising material solidarity for Cuba and drawing attention to the positive role played by this socialist island in an ocean of imperialist hostility.

    http://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-c516-Cuba-puts-the-West-to-shame#.WblF7MZpEdU

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