Lionel Chamoiseau | AFP | Getty Images
The Hotel Mercure in Marigot, near the Bay of Nettle, on the French Collectivity of Saint Martin, during the passage of Hurricane Irma.
The death toll across the Caribbean from Hurricane Irma climbed Sunday while fears of more damage from Hurricane Jose eased as the latter storm turned northward.
Jose maintained Category 4 strength after moving away from the Northern Leeward islands and continuing to shift north from battered Puerto Rico, according to the National Hurricane Center on Sunday.
At least 24 people were killed by Irma in the Caribbean, Reuters reported Sunday.
Officials feared the worst was yet to come with Jose heading toward the Caribbean, but the storm veered north without causing much damage.
“We are talking about existing devastation from a Category 5 hurricane, and right as we are starting the relief operation, we have another hurricane coming,” Raphael Hamoir, the emergency coordinator for the French Red Cross in the region, told the New York Times on Saturday before Jose turned away.
Due to Jose’s more northerly route, islands such as Antigua and Barbuda, ravaged by Irma, dodged the worse of the second storm, according to the New York Times. St. Martin and St. Barts also escaped further damage from Jose, as French state meteorological agency Météo-France said Sunday the second hurricane took “a passage which was farther away than anticipated.”
While only preliminary estimates are in of the extent of Irma’s devastation, officials told the New York Times that 80 to 90 percent of the buildings were destroyed on Antigua, Babuda, Anguilla, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy.
Irma made landfall in Florida on Sunday, and its center was forecast to move up the state’s Gulf Coast. But the effects are being felt far from the center because of Irma’s size. Florida utility officials say more than 1 million customers have lost power as Hurricane Irma hits the state.
Read the full report from the New York Times here.