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Hurricane Irma: Minimal Damage in St. Kitts

Updated on September 17, 2017
MsDora profile image

MsDora grew up, received early education and taught school in the Caribbean. Read her love and pride of the region - people and place.

In the midst of our physical and emotional damages from Hurricane Irma, residents on the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean are grateful. Still, we find it difficult to jump and shout in the face of the severe beating that Irma gave to our relatives and friends on the some of the other islands, as well as in Florida and Georgia.

The Forecast

Hurricane Irma Approaching the Leeward Islands

See the Leewards Islands sketched to the left of Irma's eye.
See the Leewards Islands sketched to the left of Irma's eye. | Source

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Andrew Freeman’s forecast on Mashable read, “Here's what is known with a high degree of confidence. Hurricane Irma is a strong storm, and may get stronger as it moves toward the Leeward Islands. Computer models nearly universally intensify it to a Category 4 or 5 beast. . . The storm is likely to batter the northern Leeward Islands beginning late Tuesday, and popular vacation spots such as St. Kitts, Nevis, Barbuda, Anguilla, and Saint Maarten, which lie in its path."

Tuesday, September 5

Bobb Henson on Weatherground reported, “Later Wednesday morning, Irma will be approaching St. Kitts and Nevis . . . A hurricane with top winds of 185 mph has never been recorded in these islands.”

That night, a national curfew was announced with effect from nine o’clock. Kittitians and Nevisians (people of St. Kitts and Nevis) went to bed expecting the worst, but praying that it would not happen.

The Winds

Irma was here.

My neighbor's tree fallen in my backyard and on the lower part of my roof.
My neighbor's tree fallen in my backyard and on the lower part of my roof. | Source

Morning, Wednesday, September 6

The heavy winds rushed in about two o’clock in the morning, with a power that threatened to lift the houses. Going against better judgement, this writer looked out of an unbarred window. In one second, the rapid swaying of the sugar apple tree in my front yard made me dizzy and scared. The creaking sounds of zinc loosening caused me to pray that they were not zinc from the neighbors’ roofs, and that the wind would not fling them into my window. My prayer was also for peace and protection.

By half past three, electricity was gone. The rains hummed in the background, while the winds led a loud, spooky melody. Sleep came eventually, but at a Thanksgiving Service a few days later, most residents confessed that they had stayed awake all night. As soon as daylight broke, people assembled in the streets, talking excitedly about the storm. Cell phones were useless at first, so everyone was anxious to hear from others across the island, as well as from the other islands.

The Surprise Ending

Afternoon, Wednesday September 6

By half past three in the afternoon, the Dominica News reported, “The eye of Hurricane Irma has passed to the north of St. Kitts & Nevis. While still experiencing wind and rains, initial reports appear to indicate that the Federation has escaped the worst.”

Some structural damage occurred, but no lives were lost. Electric power lines and telephone poles including cell phone tower lines were damaged. Most residents had fallen trees on their property, and makeshift fences (built with the zinc that crackled during the night) had been blown down. None of these incidents merited complaints as phone lines opened up, and residents learned of the disastrous reports from other islands. It seemed that Irma had simply waved at St. Kitts and Nevis and kept going.

The Travel Industry News announced: "St. Kitts’ Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport (SKB) reopens as of noon tomorrow. The hurricane warning has been discontinued as of 11:00AM EDT and the flash flood watch that was issued up to 3:00PM EDT today has also been discontinued with immediate effect."

Kittitians and Nevisians cannot explain why Irma spared them; they just thank God.

Disaster on Other Islands

Sunday and Monday, September 10 and 11

Reports were posted by Claire Phipps on MSN Weather--Irma's destruction: island by island (September 10) and by Hilary Clarke and Patrick Oppmann in CNN Regions (September 11).

Irma had visited Antigua and Barbuda, St, Maarten, Anguilla, St. Kitts and Nevis, British and Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on September 6; The Dominican Republic, Turks and Caicos on September 7; The Bahamas and Cuba on September 8. Following are extracts from the reports mentioned above.

Antigua and Barbuda

“For the first time in 300 years, there’s not a single living person on the island of Barbuda. A civilization that has existed on that island for over 300 years has now been extinguished.”- Ronald Sanders, Barbuda's Ambassador to the US.

According to the Prime Minister, Gaston Browne, "90% of buildings had been destroyed and 50% of the population of about 1,000 people left homeless. Survivors were evacuated to Antigua.

St Martin and St Barts

The French side is 95% destroyed, and 11 people have died. On the Dutch side, 1 person has been confirmed dead and the Prime Minister reported “enormous material damage” to the territory.

Anguilla

One person is confirmed dead. Many homes have been damaged or destroyed and severe damage has also been reported on “police stations, hospitals, school facilities, three or four emergency shelters, a home for the infirm and the aged, as well as the fire station.”

Virgin Islands

In the British territory, 4 people are reported dead, and according to one resident, "There is sewage absolutely everywhere.”

In the United States territory, 4 people are confirmed dead and many buildings including homes suffered extensive damage.

Puerto Rico

Thousands have been placed in emergency shelters and 3 have been confirmed dead.

Dominican Republic

More than 5,000 people have been evacuated across the country and there many flattened buildings, downed trees and power lines in sight.

Cuba

There are 10 deaths confirmed and flooding in the northern coastal areas.

Others

Turks and Caicos Islands and the Bahamas also reported damages but no fatalities. Haiti reported one death afterwards.

Disaster in Florida and Georgia

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Guardian reported that Irma, having passed through Florida and Georgia on September 10 and 11, had been downgraded to a tropical depression with maximum winds of 35 mph. The death toll was 10 in the United States 37 in the Caribbean.

We are all saddened by the loss of those whom Irma claimed as victims. Even while we thank God for our survival, we pray for those who mourn loved ones.

Finally

When our heads begin to clear, may we take some time to appreciate and express gratitude for:

  • the good times we shared with those who passed on;
  • the cooperation we usually experience when we need each other;
  • the things which remain despite the things we have lost;
  • the realization that some things are beyond our control;
  • the calm that comes after every storm.

Every day is another opportunity from the LifeGiver to express our love and gratitude to Him and to each other.

© 2017 Dora Weithers

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    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Nell. It will be a slow recovery process for most of the victims, but where there's a will, there's a way. The rest of us have to be supportive.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 3 months ago from England

      We watched it daily over here in England, and were totally appalled at the devastation. Just glad that you are okay, and I hope that others can put their lives back together, nell

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Peg. We feel blessed and favored to have been spared from Irma. We both have lots for which to be grateful.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 3 months ago from Dallas, Texas

      The devastation is unimaginable. My mouth dropped open as I watched the video. Wow. So glad you are okay and hope your friends and acquaintances are able to put their lives back together quickly. I was very lucky in my brushes with hurricanes when I lived in the Keys, Miami, and Tampa, Florida. Some of my friends and relatives suffered major damage through the storms.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Glen. According to the report, Barbuda is obliterated. Can only imagine what it's like to leave your home without any possibility of return. Still we are grateful for spared lives.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Natalie. I guess writing also helped me deal with the results and list my reasons to be grateful.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Dianna, I also remember experiencing the hurricane tailwinds while living in the Caribbean. Irma was in a category all by itself. So grateful that you and I and our families survived in tact.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 3 months ago from Long Island, NY

      This is a very complete review of the disaster that struck the islands by Hurricane Irma. Your description of your own experience took me right in and I felt I was right there with you.

      I'm glad for you that it wasn't any worse where you are, Dora. But it's sad how much worse it was for the other islands that hit struck head-on.

      I didn't know that Barbuda was destroyed to the point of having the population being completely extinguished after evacuation with no plan to return.

      Congratulations on the Hubbie Award Dora, well deserved.

    • Natalie Frank profile image

      Natalie Frank 3 months ago from Chicago, IL

      Great comprehnsive coverage of a massive storm with massI've impact. Thanks for writing it.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 months ago

      Living in south Florida we face this potential disaster every season. We were watching Irma and praying it would not be so. Talking to friends with family on the islands, I discovered many were suffering from the storm. Your words are encouraging for those who experienced this hurricane. God bless you. Also, you certainly are a winner in so many ways; congratulations on the HP award.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Chitrangada. With the love and support from you and other caring writers like you, I will strive to deserve this award.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Congratulations MsDora for the well deserved HP award!

      I have always admired your work and have great respect for you as a person.

      Have a blessed day!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Jackie. This award is the most surprising of all. I will try my best to deserve it.

    • Jackie Lynnley profile image

      Jackie Lynnley 3 months ago from The Beautiful South

      Congrats on the Hubbie Award Dora! I bet you came close on a couple of others too!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Hi Marlene, I'm sorry that the hurricanes scared your family away from reunions in the Caribbean. Perhaps later, you will reconsider cruising outside the hurricane season. Thanks for your concern and compassion.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 3 months ago from Northern California, USA

      MsDora, I am so glad that you are safe. For many years, my family held our family reunions on Caribbean cruises. One year, our cruise ship was almost caught in a hurricane and after that, we began holding our reunions on dry land. I am saddened by the destruction caused by Irma, especially for the island of Barbuda. So much has been lost, and it is healthy to mourn the loss. And, at the same time, as you say, we must remember the good times we had with those we lost and ultimately understand that there are some things that are not in our control.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Bill, I'm praying that those who suffered much will not lose their hope or their sanity. However little they have left, they will eventually thank God. Yes, He still answers prayers and He still shows up in the midst of trouble.

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      William Kovacic 3 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Thanks for the update, Dora. It truly sad that so many have suffered through this season, but so glad you are safe with minimal damage. God is still in the prayer answering business.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Catherine, I'm happy for you also that you did not suffer as much as other people did. Praying that this year's quota of storms has been fulfilled. Thanks for following.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Hi Jo. Thanks for your compassion. I googled "how to help the Caribbean" and found several choices. Hope you can find one that pleases you. Maria brought more rain than winds, and also did minimal damage--too little to mention. We're so grateful!

    • CatherineGiordano profile image

      Catherine Giordano 3 months ago from Orlando Florida

      Thanks for the news about the islands. I lived in the Caribbean for two years (and visited most of those islands) and my thoughts were with the people of those islands. I live in Orlando FL now and got smacked by Irma myself. Fortunately, I did not have much damage and was without power for only 24 hours. I'm glad that you did not sustain a lot of damage.

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      Jo Miller 3 months ago from Tennessee

      Oh my, Dora. I didn't realize you were a resident of St. Kitts. How did St. Kitts survive Maria? Our hearts go out to you, and hope you are still well. We have visited your island and loved St. Kitts. We have been wondering what we can do to help those who are being beaten up by these storms this year.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Sherry. Maria also passed leaving minimal damage too. We're grateful.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Nancy, thanks for your love and prayers--also for your encouraging feedback. We continue to pray for those who suffered losses.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Lori, thanks for your prayers. St. Kitts is about 65 square miles--less than 2 hours leisurely drive around, along the main road, and packed with unforgettable beauty. Hurricane Maria added to the death tolls on some of the other islands. We should keep praying!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks Linda. We're just coming through another storm--Maria. It did lots of damage in Dominica and Puerto Rico. Once again, only minimal damage here. We're so grateful.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Chitrangada, you couldn't have said it better. Our challenges come in a variety of forms but so do our victories. Thanks for your feedback and your interest.

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      Sherry Venegas 3 months ago from La Verne, CA

      I see you house is made of block, the roof is low and has shutters made for storms that pass through your region. Best planning you can do. Another Cat 5 is sweeping over the same Caribbean locales as Irma. I can't imagine the relief when the storm is past. All you can do is help your neighbors and put life in order again. I am posting this on my FB. My travel mates will want to know how St Kitts has fared since our visit in May.

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      Nancy Hinchliff 3 months ago from Essex Junction, Vermont

      Nice article, Dora,. Terrible hurricane tragedy. Sending prayers, love, and hope for the future to all affected.

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      Lori Colbo 3 months ago from Pacific Northwest

      Thanks for the update, Dora. I was praying for you and all the islands near you. I'm so glad you are safe. The death tolls in other places is heart breaking.

      Dora, I was wondering what the size is of St. Kitts?

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 3 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm so glad that you're safe, Dora, but so sorry for the people who died. The destruction caused by the hurricane is horrible. I hope people can rebuild their lives as soon as possible and that they remain safe. This hurricane season is terrible.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 3 months ago from New Delhi, India

      Glad to hear that you were safe in such a vast natural calamity. But sad to hear about those who suffered or are still recovering from the damage it caused.

      Man is always challenged by such devastating calamities but the good thing is that Humanity always wins.

      Thanks for sharing the details in this well written hub!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Tamarajo, you are very kind, and I appreciate you too. I join in praying that Maria will change its course. May God keep us safe.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Peggy, thanks for your compassion. I feel an affiliation to Houston, having lived there previously and I am still grieved over what Harvey did in Texas. We are also expecting Maria here in a few hours. I join you in praying for God's mercy on behalf of everyone who will be touched by these storms. May God keep us safe!

    • Tamarajo profile image

      Tamarajo 3 months ago

      Hi Dora,

      Glad to hear that you were spared the worst and sad for those the storm visited in full fury. I appreciate your gratitude, positivity, and thoughtfulness expressed in your article for all.

      Hopefully, Maria will head north into an uninhabited path in the Atlantic.

      God bless!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 3 months ago from Houston, Texas

      I am very happy for you that minimal damage was done to you and where you live. People in our area are still dealing with all of the flooding that came with Hurricane Harvey + other problems. These hurricanes are scary! Now Maria is on her way. Sending prayers for everyone in her path and praying for all who were hurt and/or are suffering the after effects of Harvey and Irma.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for your prayers, John. Sure, miracles still happen, and receiving on is a good reason to be grateful forever.

    • JohnPLyons profile image

      John Lyons 3 months ago from UK & USA

      There are prayers from this Continent too Dora, though it's a small miracle so few lives were lost!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Eric, please tell your wife that I'm asking you to keep praying, because your prayers count. Thank you. "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” ― Alfred Tennyson

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 3 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Dolores. You're right. You can't imagine the scare of 185 mph winds. We are so grateful to be spared!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 3 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Dora for this. It is times like this that I should break my code of no live news. Forgive me for not following. We knew of it. And so prayed together.

      My wife said 'perhaps our prayers did not save everyone but I believe a few". We are none deserving but all blessed.

    • Dolores Monet profile image

      Dolores Monet 3 months ago from East Coast, United States

      Glad the damage was minimal. I can't imagine how scary that was. A mere windstorm scares the stuff out of me, but a monster hurricane like that would be horrifying. And the damage done to places like Barbuda just breaks my heart.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, RTalloni. I appreciate you sharing that story. An old woman of that age would be expected to run to safety. Remarkable and inspiring! What an example for the rest of us!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Praise God, Jodah. We're giving thanks even in the face of reports that another hurricane will hit tomorrow night. In God, we continue to trust.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 4 months ago from the short journey

      Thank you for sharing your experience with the storm. The Thanksgiving service must have been a precious time of greeting friends and relatives with glad hearts. So thankful to hear you are okay. To a person all of our relatives throughout every region in Florida are okay with downed trees being the worst damage. They know that hurricanes come with the territory. Your closing is beautiful.

      Thought you might like to hear of a 92 year old lady in Miami who would not move to a shelter. She could not abandon her neighbors that she helps take care of and decided to ride it out with one who uses oxygen to breathe. Always giving credit to others, she praised those who helped put shutters on her windows and who set up a generator for her neighbor after the storm. She let us know she was okay right after the storm passed. Such an example of selflessness! And there are many like her that we do not hear of in the news. It is just remarkable that at her age she had the strength and tenacity...she gives God the glory, and so shall we. :)

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 4 months ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for sharing this MsDora. It was terrible to hear of the destruction and loss of life across the islands. Just praise God that St Kitts and Nevis were spared the worst.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Devika. I appreciate your kind thoughts.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thank you Sally, for thinking of me. I'm grateful too for not having the intense suffering which some other people have. It's real tough for Antigua and Barbuda.

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      Sally Gulbrandsen 4 months ago from Norfolk

      MsDora you and a relative in Florida were very much on my mind while the hurricane ensued. I was grateful to learn that things were not too bad with you. I visited Antigua a few years ago and it is so sad to think of what has transpired there. I hope that those involved will recover in time.

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      Devika Primić 4 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      So sad to see and hear of such tragedy and of those who are affected. Take care and glad you are safe.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Jackie. I appreciate your love and your prayers.

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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Mary. Yes, we must keep praying for those who suffered so terribly. They need great strength to pull through.

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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Bill. As a child, I experienced several tailwinds, but none as angry as Irma, although she did not give us her full blast. Grateful to God for sparing us!

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Stella. I agree that we have to take our share of the blame. Who has ever seen so may storms with such bad tempers. We need to beware!

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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks, Ashish. I appreciate your kind words, your concern and your encouragement.

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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Flourish, thanks for thinking of me. I appreciate your concern and I'm happy to report that I'm safe, thank God.

    • MsDora profile image
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      Dora Weithers 4 months ago from The Caribbean

      Angel, thanks for your kindness. The storm certainly did more than most of us expected; happy that it spared us.

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      Jackie Lynnley 4 months ago from The Beautiful South

      I know that would be a bad place to be and so glad you are just fine. May you continue to be blessed Dora, I pray you will be.

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      Mary Wickison 4 months ago from Brazil

      I was so worried for you, I am glad it only skirted by your island.

      The stories of despair and loss are heartwrenching. I hope those who have lost loved ones, homes and cherished possessions can find strength in the prayers which were said around the world as we watched Irma move across islands.

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      Bill Holland 4 months ago from Olympia, WA

      So glad to hear that you are well and did not feel the full effects of that hurricane. Great news, my friend!

    • Stella Kaye profile image

      Stella Kaye 4 months ago from UK

      Great article highlighting the plight of the residents in the Caribbean Islands. Good to know that you're safe and suffered no loss. On a grander scale, I think humans have well and truly messed up the weather and I won't be at all surprised if these mega-storms become the norm.

    • Ashish Dadgaa profile image

      Ashi 4 months ago

      @Dora Isaac Weithers,

      very well written hub. I liked the depth and intensity of the article.

      I hope you and your family safe.

      Bless you.

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      FlourishAnyway 4 months ago from USA

      I've been thinking about you and your safety and am glad to have heard from you! Thank you for updating us. I'm happy that you are well.

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      Angel Guzman 4 months ago from Joliet, Illinois

      It was a big hurricane that did too much damage :( glad you are okay.