The National Office of Disaster Services (NODS) estimates that the damage to Barbuda’s homes and buildings caused by Hurricane Irma is worth US $200 million. Additional estimates of other damage are forthcoming.
The Category 5 hurricane, which first made landfall over Barbuda on Tuesday night, has left catastrophic flooding, destruction and a mounting death toll in its wake since making landfall in Saint Martin, Sint Maarten, the British Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and now Florida.
Over 90 per cent of the structures on Barbuda were destroyed. Philmore Mullin, NODS director, gave OBSERVER media the structural damage cost estimate yesterday.
He said that the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) and the Public Works Department (PWD) will submit their reports on damage to utilities and to public infrastructure.
The myriad of uncertainties plaguing Barbudans now living in Antigua has only grown, as NODS believes it could take anywhere between three and nine months for Barbuda’s waste-covered and polluted landscape to be cleaned and for basic utilities to return.
This estimate was given by Mullin at a NODS press conference on Saturday when he and his team laid out their assessment of the “catastrophic” damage Hurricane Irma has wrought on Barbuda’s surface.
All critical infrastructure and utilities are non-existent – food supply, medicine, shelter, electricity, water, communications, waste management. Mullin said that the landscape, littered with torn, shattered and mangled debris, needs to be cleared before people can return in numbers.
He gave the three to nine months estimate on the premise that the government of Antigua & Barbuda will have “materials on the ground and sufficient work crews” when it needs them.
Joining Mullin at the press conference, Dr. Rhonda Sealy-Thomas, chief medical officer, Ministry of Health & the Environment, said that the “Hanna Thomas Hospital has been completely destroyed” and that there “was flood damage to everything in the hospital.”
Lionel Michael, chief health inspector, Ministry of Health & Environment, said that the amount of solid waste created by the destruction of virtually every dwelling on the island was simply “enormous.”
“It’s construction waste, solid waste, wood, boards, galvanize, fridges, stoves, wrecked containers and all sorts of solid waste materials. Codrington in blanketed with waste,” Michael said.
In addition to the fact that there is no usable water being produced, he said flood waters and damaged and leaking septic tanks and soakaways, along with dead and rotting animals, are now creating a fester across Codrington’s surface that risks spreading disease.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)