Hurricane season has already been particularly brutal, with Hurricane Irma making landfall on the heels of Harvey’s devastation.
And as the Category 5 storm ramps up, residents of Puerto Rico and the surrounding islands are bracing for what could be cataclysmic damage, including the possibility of months without electricity.
With all that in mind, it’s no surprise that there’s so much panic and fear, especially considering that the storm could be “possibly historic.”
The strongest Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever recorded passed almost directly over the island of Barbuda, causing widespread flooding and downing trees. France sent emergency food and water rations to the French islands of Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy, where Irma ripped off roofs and knocked out all electricity.
The regional authority for Guadeloupe and neighboring islands said the fire station in Saint Barthelemy was flooded by more than 3 feet (1 meter) of water and no rescue vehicles could move. The government headquarters on Saint Martin was partially destroyed.
When the storm passed over Barbuda, phone lines went down and the roof ripped off the island’s police station, sending officers fleeing to a nearby fire station; the storm could also end up directly hitting South Florida.
And on Saint Martin, the four most solid buildings that are shared by the Netherlands and France were destroyed, the BBC reported.
With Islands like Anguilla and St. Kitts also in Irma’s path, Colorado State University professor Phil Klotzbach warned that the Leeward Islands (a group of islands in the West Indies) “are going to get destroyed,” as The Washington Post reported.
“I just pray that this thing wobbles and misses them,” he said. “This is a serious storm.”
People are apparently turning to prayer in the midst of fear, with visitors to Antigua’s airport, which closed on Tuesday, being left with a stunning and scary proclamation: “May God protect us all,” the Post noted.
The storm is likely to remain a Category 4 or 5 for the next day or two. Read more about the storm here.