At least 25 people were killed by the deadly hurricane Irma, that is raging towards Florida as we write this. The storm is driving northwest as it passes across northern Cuba, and will eventually continue toward the United States. Florida is about to be hit by Sunday morning, where it will probably move along or near to the southwest coast, according to the National Hurricane Center. Hurricane Irma, one of the most intense Atlantic cyclones on record, had maximum sustained winds of 185 mph as the eye made its first landfall in the islands of the northeast Caribbean, passing over Barbuda around 1:47 a.m. The island was utterly destroyed and the devastation is estimated at 95%. But there is some good news: Hollywood legend Robert De Niro has officially promised to rebuild the island.
Irma made landfall in Cuba Friday evening as a Category 5 hurricane, directly hitting its northern coast. It became the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in Cuba since 1924. Irma was downgraded to Category 3 Saturday morning, but it remained Category 3 around 2 pm. It is expected to strengthen again over Florida. About 6.3 million people in the state have been ordered to leave their homes. The storm threatens Florida’s west coast on Sunday, where more than 3 million people live. Entire neighborhoods stretching northward from Naples to Tampa Bay could be submerged.
After the Caribbean island was ruined as Hurricane Irma hit on Wednesday, Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne spoke about the damage. He gave a statement to local news channel ABS.
“What I saw was heart-wrenching, I mean absolutely devastating. In fact I believe per capita basis the destruction in Barbuda is unprecedented. I would say about 95 per cent of properties have suffered some level of damage. As it stands now Barbuda is barely habitable.”
60 per cent of Barbuda’s 1,600 residents were left homeless.
Robert De Niro owns the soon-to-be Paradise Found Nobu resort in Barbuda. He has promised to help with recovery efforts after expressing his concerns for the island.
In a statement obtained by the New York Daily News, De Niro said:
“We are beyond saddened to learn of the devastation in Barbuda caused from Hurricane Irma and look forward to working with the Paradise Found Nobu team, the Barbuda Council, GOAB and the entire Barbuda community to successfully rebuild what nature has taken away from us.”
De Niro and billionaire James Packer brought the resort land last year, but didn’t begin construction on the property. Interestingly, this original proposal was controversial because the island’s residents legally have ownership of all land in Barbuda and the right to vote on all proposals.