Caribbean

The continuing blackouts in Puerto Rico after Hurricanes Irma and Maria have overshadowed the devastation in the neighboring U.S. Virgin Islands, where nearly 73 percent of residents remain without power two months after the Category 5 storms made landfall.

woman with pineapple and Jamaican food
Eddy Edwards/Jamaican Jerk Festival USA Inc. / WLRN

This weekend, Broward County residents can expect Markham Park in Sunrise to be transformed into a Jamaican and Caribbean culture hub.  

The 16th annual Jerk Festival is back, and on three stages there will be a cooking competition as well as traditional Caribbean folk and reggae performances by Morgan Heritage and King Yellowman and the Sagittarius Band. 

Eddy Edwards is the CEO of Jamaican Jerk Festival USA Inc. 

A month after the U.S. Coast Guard released its final report on the sinking of cargo freighter El Faro, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said he plans to file legislation.

But Nelson isn’t clear on exactly when or what kinds of measures he’d like to see implemented legislatively for a safer shipping industry.


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Earlier this year, two of Trinidad and Tobago's  soca superstars teamed up for the Carnival single “Buss Head,” and now they’re teaming up again in Miami —this time for a philanthropic cause.

Peter Haden / WLRN

Hundreds of anxious South Floridians swarmed the Port Everglades cruise terminal Tuesday morning to welcome a cruise ship transformed into a relief vessel: Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas.

Its storm-weary cargo:  nearly 4,000 evacuees from Puerto Rico and the U-S Virgin Islands fleeing the ravages of Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

The ship represented a new start for some, reunification for others after the one-two punch of hurricanes smashed the Caribbean with devastating force last month, leaving millions without power, homes or jobs.

JULIO OCHOA / WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

The C130's four propeller engines scream as it lifts lifts off from MacDill Air Force base in Tampa. The plane is loaded with pallets of medical supplies bound for St. Croix, nine days after the largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands took a direct hit from Hurricane Maria.

But the flight's true mission is getting patients in critical need of health care off the island and into hospitals in Columbia, South Carolina and Atlanta.

So far, hundreds of patients have been brought to those hospitals along with facilities in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The U.S. Coast Guard opened the seaports in St. Croix, St. Thomas and Puerto Rico over the weekend, but only for daylight operations at many sites.

Getting supplies onto the islands and people off after Hurricane Maria devastated the region continues to be a challenge.

CAITLIN OSTROFF / MIAMI HERALD

The Florida Roundup concentrated this week on the recovery efforts after Hurricane Irma. Guests included: 

Updated at 11 p.m. ET

Puerto Rico is trying to start the process of recovering from Hurricane Maria — and it's doing so after the powerful storm blew homes apart, filled roads with water and tore at its infrastructure. Flash floods are persisting, and the island has no electricity service.

"We are without power, the whole island is without power," Jenniffer González-Colón, Puerto Rico's resident commissioner — its representative in Congress — told Morning Edition on Thursday. González-Colón spoke from Carolina, near San Juan.

Edgar B. Herwick III / WLRN News

Marlon Hill, a Miami-based attorney, stepped to the microphone on Wednesday evening at Holy Family Episcopal Church in Miami Gardens, a longtime hub for Miami’s Caribbean Community, and urged action.

“People at work, people at your church, people at your backyard fete, tell them that you are part of the Caribbean Strong Relief Fund and organize supplies. Get them to us,” he told the approximately 100 people gathered there.

Updated at 5:30 a.m. ET Wednesday

Even though Maria has weakened to a Category 4 storm, it remains a dangerous hurricane. Maria's maximum sustained winds are near 155 mph. The National Hurricane Center says the storm should keep that intensity until it makes landfall. Puerto Rico has long been spared from a direct hit by a hurricane.

Updated at 2:20 a.m. ET Wednesday

Government of Antigua & Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda was the first country to greet Hurricane Irma’s more than 185-mile-per-hour winds - the fiercest Atlantic storm ever recorded. Speaking from the capital of St. John’s on Antigua island, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said the destruction the island of Barbuda suffered is also historic. Only one person died on Barbuda, but Browne noted the place is now a “ghost town.”

“For the first time in 300 years, Barbuda is uninhabited," Browne told WLRN.

With communications still sketchy on many Caribbean islands smashed by Hurricane Irma, it requires a view from space to take in the magnitude of the destruction from one of the most powerful storms to form in the Atlantic.

Image after image, stretching from Barbuda in the east to Turks and Caicos in the west, shows devastation on a scale that will certainly take years and billions of dollars to rebuild and surely will never be forgotten by those who endured it firsthand. Nearly three dozen people died throughout the Caribbean.

Joel Rouse / AP via Miami Herald

Atlantic hurricanes rarely leave the Caribbean unscathed. The basin is like a bowling alley for storms and the islands its pins. Hurricane Irma – which left at least 36 people dead in the Caribbean last week, including 10 in Cuba, before roaring into Florida on Sunday – was an outsize bowling ball, setting strength records as it crashed into the Leeward Islands on the basin’s eastern fringe.

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