(CMC) Citizens of the hurricane-ravaged island of Barbuda are being urged to evacuate ahead of the pending passage of Hurricane Jose – a Category 1 storm churning 800 miles east of the Lesser Antilles.
“If this other storm, Jose is going to be a threat to Barbuda, we have to evacuate them,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne said after returning from a brief visit to the sister island late Wednesday.
Following a late night Cabinet meeting, Browne announced that the government was declaring Barbuda a disaster zone and implementing a state of emergency.
Resources, including security, medical personnel and critical supplies, were mobilised and helicopters were secured for transport to the island.
However, the Codrington air strip was damaged during the storm thereby preventing planes from landing.
Boats are also challenged to find suitable mooring due to damage at the dock.
Browne estimates that 60 per cent of the island’s population has been made homeless as a result of the hurricane, sparking fear that residents do not have adequate shelter and supplies to sustain another storm.
Irma, a Category 5 storm, practically decimated the houses and other infrastructure on the 62 square mile island that is home to 1500 people.
Telecommunications equipment, roads and public utilities were all crippled by the storm that traveled directly over Barbuda.
Meanwhile, electricity was restored to St John’s and other communities throughout Antigua late Wednesday.
The restoration of power paved the way for some sense of normalcy in the capital and early Thursday, banks, shops and other businesses began operating with limited hours.
Meanwhile, Irma continues to wind her way across the Caribbean.
In the latest advisory at 8:00 am (local time), the Miami based National Hurricane Centre said the eye of Hurricane Irma was located near latitude 20.1 North, longitude 69.0 West.
Irma is moving toward the west-northwest near 17 mph (28 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue with some decrease in forward speed for the next couple of days.
On the forecast track, the eye of Irma should continue to move just north of the coast of Hispaniola on Thursday and be near the Turks and Caicos and southeastern Bahamas by later in the day and then be near the Central Bahamas by Friday.
Maximum sustained winds remain near 180 mph (285 km/h) with higher gusts.
Irma is a category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson
Hurricane Wind Scale. Some fluctuations in intensity are likely during the next day or two, but Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the next couple of days.
Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 50 miles (85 km) from the center an outward up to 185 miles (295 km).