Hurricane Irma: Damages and Costs!
Hurricane Irma was one of the most chaotic and strongest hurricane observed in the Atlantic ocean regarding wind speeds alone. This hurricane was the first category five storm to hit the Leeward Islands which was followed by Maria in just two weeks. Irma was the second most expensive hurricane right after Maria. The northeastern Caribbean and Florida Keys witnessed enormous devastation due to the hurricane. Irma also happened to the be the most intense hurricane to reach the lands of United States after Katrina in 2005 and the first major hurricane to make a windfall in Florida since Wilma which struck the same year.
Irma was seen to develop from a tropical wave near Cape Verde on 30th August. From there, thanks to favorable conditions, the storm picked up momentum and turned into a category 3 hurricane on 31st August. The intensity of the storm fluctuated between category 2 and 3 for several days but it slowly grew and reached category 5 on 4th September and had developed annular shapes and characteristics. On the 6th of September, the hurricane reached a peak with wind speeds of 180 mph and a minimum pressure of 914 hPa. These figures made it the second most intense tropical hurricane in the whole world behind Maria and the strongest hurricane in the year 2017 in terms of wind speed.
Impacts of Hurricane Irma
The devastating effects of hurricane Irma were braced by Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Martin, the Bahamas, Cuba, and the United States. Due to the large size of the hurricane, areas which were far off from landfall zones were also affected and the destruction there was immense. Property damages in Antigua and Barbados amount to $150 million to $300 million. The wind speed observed in the region reached 160 mph.
Roofs were torn off buildings, all telephone and communication lines were down, and the hurricane destroyed almost 95% of all the structures in Barbuda which included hospitals, schools, and hotels. Certain residential blocks were systematically decimated by the storm, and the only airport on the island was rendered un-operational. Along with this, all kinds of infrastructure such as power and water supply were hit which caused great difficulties in mounting rescue missions and relief initiatives.
In the United States mainland, the hurricane hit the southern states especially Florida. The damage to Florida wasn't that high with the exception of Florida Keys. This was mainly because the hurricane weakened a lot after the major landfall in Cuba. Florida Keys suffered the worst damage in the United States and the president of US, Donald Trump remarked on Twitter that the damage in certain areas was far greater than expected. The total damage in the United States was estimated at a minimum of $50 billion, and this has ranked Irma was the fourth costliest tropical hurricane in the US. Throughout Florida, at least 84 residents have lost their lives, and more than half of the deaths occurred due to drowning, trauma, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
Throughout the island of Cudjoe Keys, around 625 homes were damaged and 81 were completely demolished. The most damaged island, Big Pine Key, suffered the damage of 633 homes and about 473 homes were completely destroyed. IN the Munroe County overall, 27,649 homes received some form of minor damage, 2,977 homes were majorly affected and around 1,179 homes were completely destroyed. This made the Florida Keys one of the hardest hit areas of this category 5 cyclones. After wreaking havoc on the Florida Keys, the storm dialed down and reached Collier County as a category 3 hurricane which damaged the coastal regions.