CUBA’S capital Havana and the US city of Miami were counting the cost yesterday after Hurricane Irma flooded both with seawater.
The deadly tropical storm, the strongest since records began, swept inland across the US state of Florida towards Georgia and beyond, weakening to a category-one storm, but still with winds of 85mph.
Irma made landfall in Florida on Sunday at Cudjoe Key, inundating much of central Miami with seawater swept out of the city’s bays and toppling two static construction cranes there and one in nearby Fort Lauderdale.
Yesterday, the Cuban National Civil Defence general staff said 10 people had died in the disaster — seven in Havana and one each in Matanzas, Camaguey and Ciego de Avila provinces.
At least 25 people had already been killed as the monster storm swept across the Caribbean islands. Much of Miami remained underwater yesterday and 3.5 million homes and businesses were left without power.
In Cuba, the storm sent huge waves crashing over Havana’s Malecon sea wall, flooding the city up to a third of a mile inland.
Photos taken on Sunday showed locals wading waist-deep — or swimming — through the city streets, sharing food and drink with one another, recovering their belongings and beginning the work of cleaning up as rescue teams fanned out across the city to aid residents.
The Jose Marti Anti-Imperialist Platform building, across the street from the US embassy, was badly damaged, with a classic Lada saloon car picked up and hurled into it by the sheer force of the storm.
No deaths were reported in Cuba, which organises mass evacuations and co-ordinated civil-defence operations in cooperation with residents. Two dolphins were even airlifted to safety from a dolphinarium on Cayo Guillermo island off the island’s north coast.
In the US, President Donald Trump declared the hurricane a federal emergency, freeing up funds as some seven million people were told to flee.
Meanwhile Congress is mulling over a Trump administration Bill that will slash the budget of disasters agency FEMA by nearly $900 million.
Today French President Emmanuel Macron is due to fly on a cargo plane loaded with supplies to the colonies of St Martin and St Barts, whose residents have angrily accused the Paris government of abandoning them.
Nine people died on French St Martin and four in the neighbouring Dutch territory of St Maarten.