If anyone here has ever been to the Caribbean on holiday (I know Wizzo has been scuba diving in Bahamas), the storm that is currently pounding the region has been declared the largest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history and near the top for intensity. This storm may well change the region for decades. Reports suggest total devastation of some of the smaller islands in the chains.
The US media and most of the western world seem mostly concerned about Florida, but I would suggest that Floridans can fend for themselves and at the very least they can run from the storm (drive, fly-away). Those who live on the islands in many cases in relative squalor are going to be hardest hit without any chance of escape. There are very few basements/cellars in the islands, and underground is likely the only place to find any protection.
Most credible reports have the anemometer (for wind speed measuring) in Baruba showing sustained winds of over 180mph until the eye of the hurricane went over the island this morning and then it quit. One neighbouring island's radio station has reported that they have been attempting to contact ANYONE on Baruba all day, and have yet to have been able to. This could and probably does mean the island has no power, mobile or internet, but it could also mean much worse.
I lived for 3 years in Bermuda in my early 20's. Bermuda looks likely to get little more than a bit of rain this time, but while I was there, I experienced Hurricane Emily in 1987, which had sustained wind speeds of more than 90mph. It destroyed more than 1/3 of the islands trees, removed about 10% of the rooftops, but thankfully most of the island's houses were constructed with cinderblock walls and weathered the storm quite well. What I remember most is the sheer terror of the morning of the storm. Palm trees bent almost sideways, and the noise. Almost every moored boat in the bay was destroyed or at least beached. Bermuda was lucky because the storm picked up speed as it hit the island and it was all over in a matter of a couple of hours. This storm is more than DOUBLE the intensity and a third of the speed. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be there.
Barbuda, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Cuba, BVI and most of the other islands on Irma's path are built up with a good percentage of wooden structures, only a fraction of the altitude and extremely exposed to nature's fury. I don't pray for much, but I'm pretty frightened for the people in Irma's path. Bahamas looks likely to be swept past, but with a radius of 150km, it will still pack a punch.
Video from the Weather Network credits this video to Saint-Martin, an island a bit further along the chain. At the end of the video, the building housing the camera is also destroyed. I can't say if this is at the height of the storm or just the beginning. The storm is moving about 15mph, so the ramp up and ramp down will take close to 10hrs for it to go through.https://www.theweathernetwork.com/ca/videos/gallery/irma-live-camera-captures-building-destruction/sharevideo/5566380667001
To top it off, the next storm, named Jose is expected to develop into hurricane speed winds within a day or two and may follow almost the same path as Irma, giving the survivors barely time to dig themselves out before the next storm hits. [UPDATE] Jose has officially been declared a hurricane an hour ago, and minutes ago Katia has emerged as a new hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico...wow.