As Hurricane Irma churns its way towards the northern Leeward Islands and the northern Caribbean, including the Bahamas, Cuba and Haiti as a dangerous Category 5 storm, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) expresses concern for residents and visitors in the countries that are in the hurricane’s projected path, according to an official statement released by the organization.
“We have been in contact with our members,” according to the CTO statement, “and they assure us that they have been taking all the necessary steps to ensure that they are in a state of readiness.
“We take this storm seriously. The safety of the Caribbean’s citizens and our visitors is the number one concern for the authorities and emergency response teams throughout the region.”
According to the latest forecast from Accuweather, the storm is expected to bring damaging winds, flooding rain and rough surf to the northern Caribbean this week, with similar conditions playing out somewhere along the Gulf or Eastern coasts of the United States this weekend or next week, depending on the exact path of the storm.
The more likely scenario at this point is a southern route that would bring rain and wind to South Florida as early as this weekend, although landfalls in Georgia or the Carolinas are also possible. The storm could also head into the eastern Gulf of Mexico.
“The CTO is actively monitoring the hurricane and will share updates from our member countries on www.onecaribbean.org and our social media channels, as they become available,” according to the statement.
The CTO, with headquarters in Barbados and offices in New York and London, is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency comprising membership of the region’s finest countries and territories including Dutch, English, French and Spanish, as well as a myriad of private sector allied members.
Meanwhile, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) has issued a statement of its own.
“The whole of the OECS stands with you and our prayers and thoughts are with you, our brothers and sisters of the Caribbean, at this time,” said Allen Chastanet, chairman of the OECS and prime minister of St. Lucia. ”Region-wide emergency plans are being activated to provide the necessary assistance and resources to assist those that will be affected by this perilous system."