NOW IT'S HURRICANE MARIA, AND CARIBBEAN BRACES FOR NEW HIT
MEXICO CITY — Oh, no. Not again.
This was the general sentiment across a broad area of the eastern Caribbean on Sunday as residents, some still sifting through the wreckage left by Hurricane Irma, braced for the impact of yet another powerful storm stalking them in the Atlantic Ocean.
Hurricane Maria was rumbling toward the Lesser Antilles, the crescent of islands that curves from the Virgin Islands to Grenada, and forecasters predicted that the storm would continue to grow as it plowed west-northwest through the Caribbean. It may reach major hurricane status by midweek as it approaches Puerto Rico and the British and United States Virgin Islands.
“I don’t think that anybody is emotionally prepared for it,” said Cruselda Roberts, a real estate agent in the United States Virgin Islands, which were hammered by Hurricane Irma. “But we’ll do our best.”
The new storm comes less than two weeks after Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful cyclones ever recorded, made landfall in Antigua and Barbuda before sweeping through the Caribbean and Florida, killing dozens, destroying entire neighborhoods and leaving thousands homeless. Another Atlantic storm, Hurricane Jose, threatened the region in the wake of Irma, but ended up skirting the Lesser Antilles before turning north.
On Sunday afternoon, Hurricane Maria had maximum sustained winds of 75 miles per hour and was heading west-northwest at 15 miles per hour on a trajectory that was further south than Hurricane Irma’s. Forecasters said the storm’s likely trajectory early in the week would take it across or near islands that were largely spared the impact of Irma, including Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Montserrat and St. Kitts and Nevis.
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Still, hurricane watches remained in effect for several of the islands further north that were battered by Irma, including St. Martin, St. Barthélemy and Anguilla, which are still trying to assess the extent of the damage they suffered, grapple with their losses and imagine a path toward recovery. Even if the storm remains mostly to the south of those beaten-up islands, its outer bands of wind and rain could halt recovery efforts, inflict further damage to already-broken buildings and cause flash floods and mudslides.
“Everybody’s upset with that,” said Christophe Louis, a businessman in Guadeloupe with investments in St. Martin.
Mr. Louis, who is a partner in a rum bottling and distribution firm in St. Martin, said the company’s warehouse had been damaged by Irma, and then looted. And now the island is bracing for more punishment.