GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Chairman of the 15 member Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Prime Minister of Grenada Dr. Keith Mitchell says the regional body is ready to help in recovery efforts which are being coordinated by the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).
In a statement on Thursday, Mitchell also expressed sorrow at the deaths caused by the powerful storm.
“This massive storm has already claimed lives in many of the countries and has inflicted severe damage to infrastructure in the affected islands. I extend condolences to the family of the deceased and to the Governments and Peoples of the countries.It is almost impossible to assess the human cost of disasters such as these,” Mitchell said.
The Grenadian Prime Minister said he has been kept abreast of the situation through discussions with CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque and the Executive Director of CDEMA, Ronald Jackson.
He added that he has been in contact with leaders of most of the member states already affected by the Hurricane, – Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, DrHonourable Timothy Harris, – Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis and the Chief Minister of Anguilla, Victor Banks.
The Chairman has also been in contact with the Prime Minister of St Lucia, Allen Chastenet who is also the Lead Head of Government for Sustainable Development including Disaster Management in the CARICOM Quasi Cabinet.
“We hope and pray that the countries in the predicted path of the hurricane, Turks and Caicos Islands, The Bahamas and Haiti are spared its worst effects,” Mitchell said.
The Miami based National Hurricane Centre in its forecast issued at 8:00 pm (local time) on Thursday, the eye of Hurricane Irma was located by an Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft near latitude 21.1 North, longitude 71.8 West. Irma is moving toward the west-northwest near 16 mph (26 km/h), and this general motion is expected to continue for the next couple of days with some decrease in forward speed.
On the forecast track, the eye of Irma should continue to move near the Turks and Caicos Islands and toward the southeastern Bahamas late Thursday.
The core of the hurricane will then move between the north coast of Cuba and the Bahamas during the next day or two.
Maximum sustained winds remain near 175 mph (280 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 70 miles (110 km) from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 185 miles (295 km). – CMC