Caribbean facing knee-buckling $10 billion Irma bill

Hurricane Irma damaged Caribbean - Caribbean National Weekly News

Irma the costliest storm ever

Hurricane Irma damages in the Caribbean

The hurricane ravaged section of the Caribbean may have to cough up $10 billion-plus for the repair bill from Hurricane Irma.

Even as Hurricane Irma continued its trek across the Caribbean, disaster risk experts in Germany reported that it had already caused more than US$10 billion in damage. This makes it the costliest storm ever to hit the Caribbean region.

 

A dozen island nations and territories affected

Compiled by the Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM) in Germany, the estimate covered a dozen island nations and territories hit by last Friday, along with projections for the Turks and Caicos, which was in the hurricane’s path at that time.

“This will likely be a $10 billion loss across the Caribbean – a huge loss,” James Daniell, the senior risk engineer at CEDIM, and head of its Forensic Disaster Analysis Group said.

 

Tab expected to rise

He said the Caribbean’s tab was sure to rise as the mega-hurricane pounded the Bahamas on its path toward Florida, but it had already surpassed the costs – excluding the United States and Mexico – inflicted by Hurricanes Ike in 2008 and Hugo in 1989 (the equivalent of US$9.4 billion each in 2017).

The estimated hardest hit by Irma was Dutch St Maarten ($2.5 billion) and the US Virgin Islands ($2.45 billion), followed by French Saint Martin ($1.55 billion) and the British Virgin Islands ($1.4 billion).

No estimate was provided for Barbuda, where one person was killed. Prime Minister Gaston Browne had declared the island practically uninhabitable.

The US territory of Puerto Rico was not hit head-on by the storm, but was projected to sustain US$790 million in damage, the CEDIM reported.

The US$10 billion bill also excludes the more densely populated Dominican Republic and Haiti, which followed later on a destructive path, and for which CEDIM said the tally was likely to be high.

The total bill for loss and damage could hit US$120 billion once the United States is included, according to data modeling firm Enki Research.

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