The U.S. media should focus on the Caribbean Islands as Hurricane Irma draws near


Madelyn Knight, Photos Editor

As the aftermath of the tragic Hurricane Harvey settles down, and repairs are beginning to be made, another hurricane is barreling towards the Caribbean Islands, and so far the mainland media has let them down.

Florida’s state governor declared a state of emergency on Monday, Sept. 4. Although it is important to Florida, it is absolutely detrimental to the islands, because the U.S. media fails to put an emphasis on awareness of our territories’ conditions, specifically the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Let’s put some things into perspective. According to The Dallas Morning News, Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in Texas on Aug. 25, about a week and a half ago, cost 60 lives. Hurricane Harvey was a category 3 hurricane. Hurricane Katrina, in August of 2005 killed 1,833 people according to CNN. Hurricane Katrina was a category 3 hurricane at landfall.

The intense Hurricane Irma, which is the one headed directly towards the islands, is a category 5 with winds exceeding 156 mph and is heading straight for a very vulnerable place. Not only is the size and location of these small U.S territories a factor in how much damage will be dealt among the 3.5 million residents, but their economies are not nearly as strong as Florida’s and Texas’s economies.

The national will and drive that was seen in support of Hurricane Harvey will not be nearly as evident as it should be for the Caribbean Islands. These islands are in serious danger. It is very important that the tourism that supports these economies continues even as the islands begin to recover after the devastating hurricane hits.

Although it’s extremely easy to focus on only the American territories, everyone must take into consideration the rest of the Caribbean countries that are going to be enormously affected. Anegada, an island that is part of the British Virgin Islands is in direct line of the storm. The about 300 residents that call the small sand island home were encouraged to completely evacuate to safety.

According to the British Virgin Islands government, the island is “a low-lying island. It is therefore vulnerable to storm surge which has the potential to cause significant damage along the coastline and properties within the affected area.”

Not only is hurricane Irma a threat, but tropical storm Jose is following up behind in the same area, allowing more possible threats.

This hurricane is going to completely destroy several islands, and the media is hardly concerned and focused more on Florida, even though it is still uncertain whether or not the hurricane will cross paths with the mainland. At this time, the American media and citizens should be throwing support to the U.S. territories in the Caribbean and other islands that are going to have a difficult time recovering from such a huge disaster.