Leah Simone S., Global News Reporter
Hurricane Irma made history as the strongest Atlantic basin hurricane in history and wreaked havoc in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and Florida within one week. At its strongest, the storm boasted 185 mph winds and spanned 70,000 sq. miles, which is 5,000 sq. miles larger than the area of the state of Florida.
The hurricane first made landfall as a Category 5 storm on the dual-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda on Sept. 6, leaving behind a trail of destruction. It demolished nearly all the island’s manmade structures and left about half of its population homeless.
Hurricane Irma moved eastward to St. Martin, leaving half of its homes uninhabitable and 11 people dead. Similar, widespread destruction was reported in the British and U.S. Virgin Islands.
The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico avoided a direct hit from Hurricane Irma, but storm surges on the island caused more than half of its 3 million residents to lose power and running water.
Hurricane Irma made landfall in the Florida Keys on Sept. 10 as a Category 4 storm, causing power outages and major flooding. “Everything is underwater, I mean everything,” said Larry Kahn, an editor for the local newspaper, The Keynoter. Local officials instituted a curfew from dusk to dawn in the hopes of reducing dangerous travel and discouraging looting, which has become an issue throughout the state in the wake of the storm.
The storm downgraded to a Category 3 before assaulting Miami and causing flooding that left the city unrecognizable to residents. Streets became rivers in the South Beach area after waters breached the city’s seawall. Additionally, officials said winds were so strong that they caused two construction cranes to snap.
Hurricane Irma weakened to a tropical storm as it made its way up Florida’s coast, then to a tropical depression as it moved through Georgia.