While Barbuda suffered the brunt of Hurricane Irma’s force, Antigua largely escaped major destruction from the Category 5 hurricane which had sustained winds of 185 mph and gusts at 225 mph.
Bishop Robert Llanos, Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of St John’s–Basseterre which includes St Kitt’s-Nevis, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands told Catholic News on Wednesday that “Antigua seems to have fared pretty well”. While Irma has moved on to other islands, there was still rainfall and thunder.
The electricity supply was disrupted on the island and consequently internet service, but he had not heard of any major damage to buildings or reports of deaths. In a telephone interview, Bishop Llanos said “mostly vegetation”– fallen trees – was impacted. He was concerned about Barbuda which “got a direct hit”.
While communication was “not the best” in the islands in the aftermath, he had received feedback from Tortola, British Virgin Islands, Montserrat and St Kitts. Anguilla could not be contacted yet. He said preparations were made in advance to protect life and property ahead of Irma’s passing.
“In Tortola, British Virgin Islands, St William of York church, Road Town, was secured and the priest went to stay in a hotel,” Bishop Llanos said. Two weeks ago there was flooding at the church. He did not have information on Mary Star of the Sea church, located on East End, which is “prone to flooding”.
There was no major damage to church buildings but the bishop could not comment on schools. He expected information to come in over the next 48 hours.
Fr Frank Power SVD, Administrator, Cathedral of the Holy Family told Catholic News shutters were put on the windows of the Cathedral except one which could not be secured. He said there was minimal leaking. Fr Power said at 11 p.m. the weatherman said Irma had veered north and “this took away the worst of what we were expecting”. He said conditions were very windy Tuesday night with gusts 100 mph whereas on Wednesday there was more rain and less wind. He said Antigua and Barbuda were “now looking out for Jose”.
The Antigua Observer website reported Wednesday that three persons had to seek medical attention from the Mount St John Medical Centre. Several roofs were damaged including in Crosbies, Fort Road, Clare Hall, Grays Farm and Pigotts.
Prime Minister Gaston Browne via a statement issued on Wednesday said the clearing of drains, gutters and reservoirs initiated in advance, ensured the island did not have flooding, and “eliminated the possibility of water-borne disease”. He also stated the country’s infrastructure “has stood up” and normal life could resume within hours.
The conditions in Barbuda was unclear but Asot Michael, the country’s Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy was due to visit September 6 to assess the damage. The VC Bird International Airport was reopened at 2 p.m. (Eastern Standard Time).
A release from the TT Office of the Prime Minister stated the government was monitoring the impact of the severe weather system on TT’s Caribbean neighbours. It stated this country would do all it can to assist “should that occasion arise”. – LPG