Depopulated And Destroyed: The Caribbean's Irma Losses

Sep 18, 2017

The Caribbean after Irma. We’ll look at devastated islands and the way forward.

This hour, we also look at how snowbirds are expected to reconsider wintering in Florida after Irma.

Hurricane Irma swamped Florida, but it crushed Caribbean islands on its way to the mainland. Beautiful islands, the islands of dreams, flattened. Stripped of vegetation. Houses, clubs, piers, marinas – destroyed. It’s very rough in the US Virgin Islands and more. Some aid getting in. People still trying to get out. So what now? These islands know hurricanes. But climate change ups the ante. This hour, On Point: life, “life and limb,” and tourism in the Caribbean after Irma. — Tom Ashbrook.


David Abel, reporter who covers environment at The Boston Globe (@davabel)

Frank Ackerman, economist specializing in climate change, energy and other environmental problems

Karolin Troubetzkoy, president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (@Troubetzkoy)

Tom’s Reading List

The Boston Globe: Enormous hurdles — and resolve — ahead for those in Virgin Islands’ hard-hit tourism industry — “The turquoise waters still glimmer in the bright sun, and the beaches remain breezy and alluring. But instead of daiquiri-sipping tourists on lounge chairs, the white sands beside the Westin Resorts are thick with detritus that makes it look more like a war zone.”

Economist: How Hurricane Irma will change the Caribbean — “Just putting back what the storm took away will not be enough this time. Irma was the first category-five hurricane to strike some of the islands but it is unlikely to be the last. Global warming makes such storms stronger, and it raises sea levels, which add to their destructiveness. They will strike hardest at the playgrounds on which the region’s prosperity depends. The Caribbean is more reliant on tourism than any other region; the industry is responsible directly and indirectly for more than 2m jobs. If the region is to prosper in the long run, governments will have to do more to protect coastlines and strengthen buildings and infrastructure.”

NBC: Hurricane Irma Survivors in Caribbean Fear They Will Be Forgotten After ‘Apocalyptic’ Storm — “At least 54 people across the Caribbean and the southeastern United States were killed by Irma, which at its peak was a Category 5 hurricane, the strongest on the National Hurricane Center’s wind scale. The storm wreaked havoc across Barbuda, St. Maarten/St. Martin, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and Cuba before turning its eye on Florida.”

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