Hurricane Maria Rips into Caribbean Islands Already Devastated by Hurricane Irma

September 20, 2017 | Revolution Newspaper |


With super-destructive winds as strong as 165 mph, Hurricane Maria slammed into the Caribbean this week—a region that was already reeling from the disaster from Hurricane Irma just two weeks ago. As of Wednesday night, September 20, there are reports that all of Puerto Rico—with a population of about three and a half million people—is without power after Hurricane Maria made landfall there in the morning. A spokesperson for the governor of Puerto Rico said, “This is total devastation. Puerto Rico, in terms of the infrastructure, will not be the same.... This is something of historic proportions.”

Hurricane Irma had made a “glancing blow” and not a direct hit on Puerto Rico—but with the infrastructure already severely weakened by years of debt crisis imposed by U.S. imperialism, even that had left many without electricity and water. Still, several thousand people from other Caribbean islands  hit harder by the storm had taken refuge in Puerto Rico before this new hurricane. Officials warned that flash flooding and mudslides from the effects of the hurricane could be even more dangerous than the storm winds—and that it would take as long as six months for power to be fully restored. What would that mean for people who were already living in increasingly desperate conditions, patients in hospitals and other medical facilities, elderly people and infants, and others?

Earlier, Hurricane Maria hit full force on Dominica, an island nation of about 75,000 people. Seven are confirmed dead, but with the island’s communications and power down, it’s unclear what the full extent of the damage is—but reporters flying overhead described hundreds of homes visibly flattened or damaged. St. Croix and St. Thomas, two of the U.S. Virgin Islands, also were among those hit directly. And as of Wednesday night, Hurricane Maria was heading toward the Dominican Republic, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Bahamas. has pointed out as part of our coverage of Harvey and Irma that while hurricanes—as well as earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, and droughts—are natural phenomena of the planet we live on, the system of capitalism actually worsens natural disasters and their impact on humanity. This includes how climate change—caused by the system’s incessant burning of fossil fuels that feeds greenhouse gases into the atmosphere—is leading, among other things, to more powerful and destructive hurricanes and other “extreme weather” events around the world. And it includes the whole brutal history of colonialism, slavery, and imperialist invasions and domination behind the situation of deep economic crisis, poverty and misery today in Puerto Rico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and other Caribbean islands, which greatly amplifies the vulnerability of tens of millions of people living in this region to hurricanes and other natural disasters.

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