TAMPA — A weakened but still dangerous Irma pushed inland Monday as it hammered Florida with winds that created hazards for rescuers and flooding that set a record in one city.
- Airlines, tour ops suspend Cuba cays, SXM flights until Oct. 31
- Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, Transat have Cuba, Florida updates post-Irma
Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm over Florida, but it still had winds near hurricane force. Its outer bands were also blowing into Georgia, where the storm’s centre was expected to arrive later in the day. With rough conditions persisting across Florida, many communities in Irma’s wake feared what destruction would be revealed as daylight allowed authorities to canvass neighbourhoods.
Storm surge flooding in downtown Jacksonville exceeded a record set during a 1964 hurricane by at least 1 foot, according to the National Weather Service. A river gauge downtown in the Atlantic Coast city measured 3 feet above flood stage.
Nearly 4.5 million homes and businesses across Florida lost power, and utility officials said it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone. More than 100,000 were in the dark in Georgia.
The monster storm, which arrived in Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, has toppled at least three constructions cranes – two over downtown Miami and one in Fort Lauderdale.
People in the heavily populated Tampa-St. Petersburg area had feared a first direct hit from a major hurricane since 1921, but the storm weakened to a Category 2 as it approached.
In one of the largest U.S. evacuations, nearly 7 million people in the Southeast were warned to seek shelter, including 6.4 million in Florida alone. More than 200,000 people waited in shelters across Florida.
Next, Irma is expected to push into Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. A tropical storm warning was issued for the first time ever in Atlanta, and school was cancelled in communities around the state.
An Atlanta airport official says there’ve been around 800 cancellations due to the threat of Irma. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport spokesman Andrew Gobeil says the airport will still be operational Monday and will monitor storm conditions. An overflow parking plan has been made to allow planes unable to land in areas such as Florida to park at the airport in Atlanta. Also in Atlanta, the city’s transit system has suspended all bus and rail service.
No deaths in Florida were immediately linked to the storm. In the Caribbean, at least 24 were people were killed during Irma’s destructive trek across exclusive islands.
The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association has compiled a comprehensive list of hotel and resort closures and damage. Updates are as follows:
- Curtain Bluff: Property emerged from the tail of the storm without any damage. Clean up has begun and communications will soon be restored.
- Cocos Hotel: No long-term damages
- Galley Bay: Guests are safe. Operational updates will be available in the coming days
- Hermitage Bay: No major damage
- Jumby Bay Island: No structural damage reported, just landscaping cleanup. The resort is currently closed as part of its annual maintenance so no guests were on the island during Irma
- Keyonna Beach Resort: No long-term damage
- Pineapple Beach Club: Guests are safe, operational updates in the coming days
- St. James Club: Guests are safe, operational updates in the coming days
- Veranda: Guests are safe, operational updates in the coming days
- The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency is reporting the airport runway and most roads leading to the airport have been cleared of debris. Also, 90% of government buildings and business structures were damaged as well as 90% of the electricity infrastructure. There is also significant damage to the main water supply
- Quintessence Hotel: Plans for reopening on Nov. 1 have been delayed due to damage
- Hurricane warnings have been lifted for all of The Islands of The Bahamas, however, tropical storm warnings remain in effect for Grand Bahama and Bimini
- The all clear has been given for the remainder of The Islands of The Bahamas. This includes the islands of Abaco, Andros, The Berry Islands, New Providence, Eleuthera, Cat Island, the Exumas, Long Island, Rum Cay, Andros, San Salvador, Inagua, Mayaguna, Crooked Island, Acklins, Long Cay, Ragged Island, and Samana Cay
- The Lynden Pindling International airport in Nassau sustained no damage and resumed operations on Sept. 10
- All other airports on The Islands of The Bahamas remain closed, but operations will resume as soon as the National Emergency Management Agency gives the all clear
- The Port of Nassau reopened on Sept. 10, however no vessels are expected until Sept. 13. All other ports remain closed. Cruise reservation holders should check directly with their cruise provider for updates on departures and itineraries.
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS
- Destruction caused by Hurricane Irma has been devastating, with cell phone towers down and power outages making it difficult to send communications
- The UK government is sending Royal Navy flagship HMS Ocean to offer relief and support
- Bitter End Yacht Club: The hotel was on its annual closure during the storm; crew on the ground is safe
- Peter Island Resort & Spa: Guests and on-island staff are safe
- Rosewood Little Dix Bay: Currently closed for renovation so no guests were present during the storm
- Scrub Island: All guests and associates are safe
- Irma hit Cuba’s northern coast, where thousands of tourists were evacuated from low-lying cays. Damage reports are expected over the next few days.
So sad… No one will be flying into Cayo Coco Cuba for a long time ? airport at Cayo Coco, Cuba. EDITED: Getting lots…
- Punta Cana International airport has resumed normal operations
- The hotel sector is reporting no major damage
- The Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) is reporting that major tourism infrastructure and attractions are operational and the island can continue to welcome new visitors
- While there have been power outages, many hotels and essential services like hospitals have generators and are operational
- Flights to and from Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport have resumed
- Puerto Rico’s port is operational and began receiving cruises on Sept. 9
- Condado Plaza Hilton: Minor damage
- El Conquistador Resort: Operational and working on getting all amenities back to normal; Las Casitas Village will reopen when electricity is restored
- El San Juan Hotel: Minimal damage and all efforts are being made to reopen as soon as power is restored
- Hotel el Convento: All guests, associates and clients are safe; no significant damage and operations are resuming
- InterContinental San Juan: Business as usual
- Rincon Beach: Open for business
- San Juan Water Beach Club Hotel: No damage, have full power, is open for business
ST. KITTS AND NEVIS
- St. Kitts & Nevis sustained minimal damage overall and both St. Kitts’ Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport and Nevis’ Vance W. Amory International Airport have reopened
- Four Seasons Resort Nevis: Is in fine shape and all areas are generally dry
- Hermitage Inn: General debris and no structural damage
- The Great House and Cottages at Nisbett Plantation Beach Club: Excellent condition, with some damage to the Sea Breeze Beach Bar, decking and beach
- St. Barth’s was heavily impacted, with reports of destroyed government buildings and badly damaged homes and resorts, including the Eden Rock Hotel
- Flooding throughout the destination
ST. MAARTEN (Dutch) / ST. MARTIN (French)
- Recover efforts continue
- Director of Tourism for Dutch St. Maarten Rolando Brison is reporting that Sunwing has evacuated some visitors to Montreal, while other guests have also been evacuated
- Princess Juliana International Airport has been receiving flights that are bringing in relief supplies and evacuating guests
- No passengers or media are being allowed in at the moment due to airport staff shortage
- Beach Plaza: Badly damaged
- Hotel Mercure: Damaged
- Oyster Bay Beach Resort: Significant damage
- Riu Palace St. Martin: Infrastructure is severely affected, all guests and employees are fine with sufficient water and food
- Sonesta: All guests and staff of Sonesta Maho Beach Resort Casino & Spa, Sonestsa Ocean Point Resort and Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort & Casino are safe and unharmed; resort damage is severe, with guests in on-property ‘safe areas’ at the resorts. All further reservations from now through the end of 2017 have been cancelled
- Westin Dawn Beach: Significant damage
- A few roofs lost, downed trees, but the island suffered minimal damage
- The airport and seaport are both operational, and telephone, Internet, electricity and water are all back up
TURKS AND CAICOS
- Governor Dr. John Freeman and Premier Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson given the all-clear
- Many roads have been flooded and power lines and transformers are down
- Providenciales International Airport (PLS) is currently closed
- Alexandra Resort, Blue Haven Resort and Beach House: All guests and staff of the three resorts are reported safe and are remaining on property pending further instructions. The resorts sustained some wind and water damage and will be closed for arrivals for 30 days through Oct. 8.
- Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa: All guests are safe, no power or water yet
- Gansevoort Turks & Caicos, A Wymara Resort: All guests are safe, power off and water is temporarily off, phones are out but cell and Internet are working
- La Vista Azul: All guests are safe, no power or water yet
- Ocean Club Resorts: All guests are safe, no power or water yet
- Ports of Call Resort: all guests are safe, no power or water yet
- The Regent Grand: All staff and guests are safe
- Sands at Grace Bay: All is well
- Seven Stars Resort: All guests are safe, no power or water yet
- The Shore Club: All staff and guests are safe
- Villa Del Mar: All guests are safe, power and water off
UNITED STATES VIRGIN ISLANDS (St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas)
- A full assessment on Irma’s impact is underway, and while St. Croix is getting back to business, visitors are being encouraged not to visit St. Thomas and St. John
- St. Croix’s Henry E. Rohlsen Airport received its first commercial flight on Sept. 8 (JetBlue flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico)
- St. Thomas’ Cyril E. King Airport was closed to commercial traffic this past weekend due to Hurricane Jose
- The storm has resulted in four casualties to date on St. Thomas
- The Buccaneer (St. Croix): Open for business, facilities in good shape but there may be some limitation of services for the next few days
- Caneel Bay (St. John): Complete power outage
- Westin St. John Resort Villas (St. John): All associates, owners and guests are safe
- Bluebeard’s Castle Resort (St. Thoams): Everyone at the resort is safe but without power and cell phone service
- Secret Harbour Beach Resort (St. Thomas): All guests and staff are safe; no major structural damage, generator is still working
- Sugar Bay Resort & Spa (St. Thomas): All guests and team members are safe
- Windward Passage (St. Thomas): Will be closed for six month
Several cruise lines have also shared updates from the region:
- Adventure of the Seas made a humanitarian stop in St. Maarten on Sunday and Majesty of the Seas will make humanitarian calls in St. Thomas and St. Maarten to provide supplies
- CANCELLED: Empress of the Seas, Sept. 13 Cuba cruise
- CANCELLED: Majesty of the Seas, Sept. 15, Bahamas cruise
- For both the Empress sailing on 9/13 and the Majesty sailing on 9/15, the cruise fare and fees will be 100% refunded to the original form of payment, and RCI is also offering a 25% future cruise credit, based on the cruise fare, if a new cruise is booked in the next 30 days.
- MODIFIED: Allure of the Seas, Sept. 10, Western Caribbean cruise. The new departure date is Wednesday, 9/13 and will sail a 4-night itinerary, with an overnight in Nassau, Bahamas.
- MODIFIED: Harmony of the Seas, Sept. 9, Eastern Caribbean cruise. The new departure date will be on Tuesday, 9/12 and we will sail a 4-night itinerary to Cozumel, Mexico. To give you additional time to travel to the port, we expect to begin boarding at 5 pm.
- MODIFIED: Oasis of the Seas, Sept. 10, Eastern Caribbean cruise. The departure date will be on Wednesday, 9/13 and will sail a 4-night itinerary to Cozumel, Mexico. Passengers on these cruises who choose to sail on Allure, Harmony or Oasis will receive a refund of 50% of their cruise fare paid in the form of a refundable onboard credit, and an additional 50% future cruise credit.
- MODIFIED: Enchantment of the Seas, Sept. 11, Bahamas cruise. Departure date remains Tuesday, 9/12 and RCI will sail a 3-night itinerary to the Bahamas. To give additional time to travel to the port, boarding will begin at 5 pm.
NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE
- All of Norwegian Escape’s upcoming Eastern Caribbean sailings until November will be altered to a Western Caribbean itinerary. All guests scheduled to sail on any affected cruises will be notified of the change. Norwegian Cruise Line’s Miami headquarters will remain closed through Tuesday, September 12 and are scheduled to re-open on Sept. 13. NCL’s call centres are operating remotely and hold times may be longer than normal.
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE
- Carnival reports that all ships in the Carnival Cruise Line fleet are safe and were positioned well away from the storm. “Our intentions are to operate the following cruises from South and Central Florida once the ports reopen. Guests who choose to cancel, will automatically receive a future cruise credit in the amount paid.” This future cruise credit will be automatically processed, says Carnival.
- Carnival Conquest, Sept. 9: Now scheduled to depart Port Everglades on Sept. 12 on a 4 day cruise to Cozumel.
- Carnival Glory, Sept. 9: Now scheduled to depart Miami on September 12 on a 4 day cruise to Cozumel.
- Carnival Magic, Sept. 9: Now scheduled to depart Port Canaveral on September 13 on a 3 day cruise to Freeport and Nassau.
- Carnival Vista, Sept. 9: Now scheduled to depart Miami on September 12 on a 5 day two port Western Caribbean cruise to Grand Cayman and Cozumel
- Carnival Victory, Sept. 11: Now scheduled to depart Miami on September 12 for a 3 day cruise to Nassau and Freeport.
- Carnival Sensation, Sept. 11: Now scheduled to depart Miami on September 13 for a 3 day cruise to Nassau.
- Guests on one of the following sailings who were unable to travel will receive future cruise credits: Carnival Paradise – September 7; Carnival Sensation – September 7; Carnival Fascination – September 10
- THE FOLLOWING SAILINGS WILL DEPART AS SCHEDULED: Carnival Fascination – Sept. 10, will depart San Juan on September 10 on a cruise to Dominica, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua and St. Kitts
- Guests who sail on shortened cruises will receive a pro-rated refund of their cruise fare. Additionally, anyone who pre-purchased our beverage packages will also receive a pro-rated adjustment. These refunds will be to the original form of payment. Pre-purchased Carnival Adventures for cancelled ports, as well as any taxes, fees and port expenses will be refunded to your onboard Sail & Sign account. Gratuities will also be adjusted to reflect the shortened duration.
Here are some airline updates:
- As the storm prepares to cross into Georgia Monday, Delta teams have set their sights on resuming service to Florida airports. Delta expects reports from airport authorities throughout the state Monday on the condition of runways, taxiways and terminal infrastructure, some of which sustained damage. Updates are expected throughout the morning and will determine Delta’s Florida restart.
- Delta has combined and consolidated fee waivers through Sept. 17 for customers transiting three dozen destinations where flights will be affected by Irma, and created a new waiver for St. Thomas, St. Maarten and Turks and Caicos for customers ticketed through Oct. 31.
- All southbound flights to Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, Camaguey, Varadero and Holguin have been cancelled up to Sept. 14
- Due to the effects of Hurricane Irma, all Sunwing flights from Toronto to St Maarten are cancelled until Oct. 26, and from Montreal to St Maarten are cancelled until Nov. 9. Sunwing has added additional flying on the same day of travel, from Toronto to Montego Bay and Montreal to Cancun in order to offer customers more options.