Friday | September 22, 2017
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Nations rush to help islands devastated by Hurricane Irma

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — French, British and Dutch military authorities rushed aid to a devastated string of Caribbean islands Thursday after Hurricane Irma left at least 10 people dead and thousands homeless as it spun toward Florida for what could be a catastrophic blow this weekend.

Warships and planes were dispatched with food, water and troops after the fearsome Category 5 storm smashed homes, schools and roads, laying waste to some of the world’s most beautiful and exclusive tourist destinations.

Hundreds of miles to the west, Florida braced for the onslaught, with forecasters warning that Irma could slam headlong into the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people, punish the entire length of the state’s Atlantic coast and move into Georgia and South Carolina.

More than a half-million people in Miami-Dade County were ordered to leave as Irma closed in with winds of 175 mph (281 kph).

“Take it seriously, because this is the real deal,” said Maj. Jeremy DeHart, a U.S. Air Force Reserve weather officer who flew through the eye of Irma at 10,000 feet.

By late Thursday afternoon, the hurricane was north of the Dominican Republic and Haiti, where authorities reported some flooding and building damage but no deaths.

About a million people were without power in Puerto Rico after Irma sideswiped the island overnight, and nearly half the territory’s hospitals were relying on generators. No injuries were reported. The first islands hit by the storm were scenes of terrible destruction.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said four people were confirmed dead and about 50 injured on the French side of St. Martin, an island split between Dutch and French control.

 

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