5 MOST DESTRUCTIVE NATURAL DISASTERS TO HIT THE CARIBBEAN
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With the occurrence of Tropical Storms to Hurricanes Erika and Danny barreling towards the Caribbean and the potential damage that they offer it is hard not to be reminded of the major disasters that have impacted the region.
Here are a few:
(1) HAITI EARTHQUAKE
On January 12 2010 the Haiti Earthquake hit the Richter scale at 7.0. There was an estimated 250,000 deaths during this earthquake (claiming more lives as a percentage of a country’s population than any recorded disaster).
- Millions were injured and made homeless . Tens of thousands became amputees as they lost limbs.
- Port-Au-Prince and the surrounding southern Haiti was destroyed.
- Infrastructure damage was widespread, damage that remains today, 5 years later. Infrastructure has not been restored as yet .
- This earthquake may have caused as much as $13.2 billion in damage, according to a study by the Inter-American Development Bank.
- Ten years after the disaster, Haiti’s economic output is likely to be roughly 30% lower than it otherwise would have been, the study added. “This is the case even given significant increases in aid flows that tend to occur after a major disaster,” the study said. While aid can help, “this does underline the challenge ahead for Haiti and for the international community attempting to support the country.”
(2) Mt Pelee -MARTINIQUE
At 8am on 8 May 1902, Mount Pelée blew its top, sending a massive cloud of incandescent gas hurtling down its flanks. Travelling at more than 100mph, it struck St Pierre at 8.02am. The eruption which killed 3,000 people. Probably the highest volcanic death toll in modern times.
- Mount Pelee is one of the most active volcanoes in the Lesser Antilles and has had twenty-six eruptions in the last three thousand years
- Pelee means bald in French and this probably refers to the denuded volcanic landscape the first French settlers saw in 1635.
- Mt. Pelee is a 400,000 year old stratovolcano and was formed mostly by violent explosive eruptions.
(3) Soufriere Hills- MONTSERRAT
In July 1995, Montserrat’s Soufriere Hills volcano, dormant for centuries, erupted and soon buried the island’s capital, Plymouth, in more than 12 metres of mud, destroyed its airport and docking facilities, and rendered the southern part of the island, now termed the exclusion zone, uninhabitable and not safe for travel.
- Phreatic explosions spewed up to 20 feet (6 meters) of ash over the capital city of Plymouth totally destroying the town while two-thirds of the island’s population was forced to flee.
- The southern part of the island was evacuated and visits are severely restricted. The exclusion zone also includes two sea areas adjacent to the land areas of most volcanic activity. Half the population had to be evacuated from the island
- Although the island is in recovery mode, the 2011 census shows a population of 4,922 down from the pre-eruption population of approximately 12,000.
Data Source: http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/montserrat.html
(4) Tropical Storm Erika-DOMINICA
Erika formed on Aug. 24, 2015, as it was immediately classified as a tropical storm. Erika maintained tropical storm status for its entire life cycle. It reached peak intensity with winds of 50 mph on multiple occasions, as it remained a fairly weak tropical storm. The most destructive impacts were felt across Dominica in the Lesser Antilles, on Aug. 27.
- Roads were washed out, homes were damaged and an airport flooded. Canefield Airport near the capital of Roseau, Dominica, picked up 12.64 inches (322.4 millimeters) of rain in a 12-hour period from Erika.
- The Associated Press reported at least 20 people killed and another 24 unaccounted for on the small eastern Caribbean island of Dominica, authorities said.
- About 80 percent of the island was left without electricity, and the water supply was cut off. Trees and light poles were strewn across streets, and several buildings sustained damage, including torn off scaffolding
(5) Hurricane Gilbert-JAMAICA
After re-emerging into the warm open waters of the northwest Caribbean Sea, the storm rapidly intensified.
- Hurricane Gilbert was the most intense hurricane ever documented in the Atlantic Basin, a title held until 2005 when Hurricane Wilma surpassed it.
- Hurricane Gilbert was the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the western hemisphere since Camille struck in 1969.
- By the time the destruction had stopped, 45 people were dead and over 500,000 left homeles
- Initial damages amounted to between $1-2 billion (1989 USD) in Mexico – the tourism industry around the Yucatan took a critical hit in the months following the storm with resultant losses totaling $87 million. The destruction in Jamaica accounted for the majority of monetary losses associated with Hurricane Gilbert, with damage to crops, buildings, roads and homes totaling $4 billion (1988 USD).
Jason Walker25 Posts
Patriot, Jamaican, Caribbean, Pan African, Humanist, Radio Personality, DJ. I have worked over 20 years as a Journalist for Caribbean Today Magazine, WRFG Radio 89.3 FM, Cross Over Media and several media outlets in the Caribbean and the US.