AP NEWS

added caribbean briefs

September 9, 2017

Nations rush to help islands devastated by Hurricane Irma

PORT-AU-PRINCE, — French, British and Dutch military authorities rushed aid to a devastated string of Caribbean islands after Hurricane Irma left at least 22 people dead and thousands homeless. 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.

Bolt confident world records could stand for 15-20 years

KYOTO, Japan — Usain Bolt is feeling no pressure in retirement, confident his best times can remain world records for decades.

The only sprinter to capture the 100- and 200-meter track titles at three consecutive Olympics, Bolt retired last month after the world championships in London. He holds the world record of 9.58 seconds in the 100 and 19.19 in the 200 — both set in Berlin in 2009.

“I think [they’re] going to last a while,” Bolt said during a promotional event in Japan on Tuesday. “I think our era with Yohan Blake, Justin Gatlin and Asafa Powell and all these guys was the best era of athletes. If it was going to be broken, it would have been broken in this era, so I think I have at least 15 to 20 more years.”

Bolt’s farewell major meet didn’t go to plan in London. After a surprising third-place finish in the 100 behind Americans Gatlin and Christian Coleman, Bolt’s last race ended in the anguish of an injured hamstring while anchoring 4x100-meter relay team.

Gatlin, often cast as the villain during Bolt’s long dominance, said he thinks his rival will be back. But Bolt brushed off that notion.

“I have nothing to prove, that’s the main reason I left track and field. After you do everything you want there is no reason to stick around,” Bolt said.

Irma’s Caribbean victims brace for another hurricane

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua — Thousands of Irma victims across the Caribbean fought desperately to find shelter or escape their storm-blasted islands altogether Friday as another hurricane following close behind threatened to add to their misery.

With Irma and its 155 mph winds taking aim at the Miami metropolitan area of 6 million people, the death toll in the storm’s wake across the Caribbean climbed to 22.

Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and the eastern part of Cuba reported no major casualties or damage by mid-afternoon after Irma rolled north of the Caribbean’s biggest islands.

But many others farther east were left reeling after the storm ravaged some of the world’s most exclusive tropical playgrounds, known for their turquoise waters and lush green vegetation. Among them: St. Martin, St. Barts, St. Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla.

Irma smashed homes, shops, roads and schools; knocked out power, water and telephone service; trapped thousands of tourists; and stripped trees of their leaves, leaving an eerie, blasted-looking landscape littered with sheet metal and splintered lumber.

On Friday, looting and gunshots were reported on St. Martin, and a curfew was imposed in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Many of Irma’s victims fled their islands on ferries and fishing boats for fear of Hurricane Jose, a Category 4 storm with 150 mph winds that could punish some places all over again with high winds and heavy rain over the weekend.

“I don’t think it takes a rocket scientist to know that further damage is imminent,” said Inspector Frankie Thomas of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda.

On Barbuda, a coral island rising a mere 125 feet above sea level, authorities ordered an evacuation of all 1,400 people to neighboring Antigua, where Stevet Jeremiah was reunited with one son and made plans to bury another.

Jeremiah, who sells lobster and crab to tourists, was huddled in her wooden home on Barbuda early Wednesday with her partner and their 2- and 4-year-old boys as Irma ripped open their metal roof and sent the ocean surging into the house.

Her younger son, Carl Junior Francis, was swept away. Neighbors found his body after sunrise.

“Two years old. He just turned 2, the 17th, last month. Just turned 2,” she repeated. Her first task, she said, would be organize his funeral. “That’s all I can do. There is nothing else I can do.”

— Compiled from The Associated Press

The dead included 11 on St. Martin and St. Barts, four in the U.S. Virgin Islands, four in the British Virgin Islands and one each on Anguilla and Barbuda.

Many victims picked through the rubble of what had once been Caribbean dream getaway homes.

On St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, power lines and towers were toppled, a water and sewage treatment plant was heavily damaged, and the harbor was in ruins, along with hundreds of homes and dozens of businesses.

On St. Thomas, Jodi Jabas and Matt Biwer were combing through the wreckage of home they had been busy remodeling before the storm. They huddled in a studio apartment on the ground floor as Irma roared overhead.

The storm took off the roof and a good section of the house with it.