Maria becomes a hurricane when the Caribbean and Florida still recover from Irma

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A resident rescues belongings after the passing of Hurricane Irma today, Sunday, September 17, 2017, in Marathon Key south of the state of Florida (USA). EFE

Tropical Storm Maria strengthened and became a Category 1 hurricane on its way to the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico, which are already preparing for the arrival of the cyclone in the coming days.

The hurricane, which has sustained maximum winds of 120 kilometers per hour (75 miles per hour), heads towards the Lesser Antilles, recently hit by the devastating passage of Hurricane Irma.

These islands, as well as Puerto Rico and Cuba, were recently hit by Irma, with dramatic cases such as that of Barbuda, devastated by more than 90% according to their authorities and the reconstruction work is not yet over.

In its 5 pm Eastern time bulletin, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that Mary is located 225 kilometers (140 miles) east-northeast of Barbados and 445 kilometers (275 miles) east- southeast of Dominica.

The potential threat posed by María comes just a week after Hurricane Irma passed through these islands of the Caribbean, Puerto Rico and the southeastern US, where it caused more than thirty deaths, and has states like Florida by a few taking the road to normalcy.

At the southern end of this state, in the Keys, the final stretch of the return operation began today for the tens of thousands of residents who evacuated this set of islands, more than 110 miles (177 kilometers) long and without doubt one of the most affected by the passage of the powerful Cyclone Irma.

Monroe County authorities, where the Keys are settled, have asked residents to bring with them enough provisions to self-sustain for a while, as basic utilities such as light, water and drainage are not yet fully restored.

“The Keys are not what you left behind several days ago when they evacuated,” Monroe County Mayor George Neugent said during a wheel. “Electricity, sewage, and potable water work intermittently, at best. of press on Saturday, when access to the Marathon Key was allowed.

Irma’s eye landed last Sunday on Cudjoe Key, with category 4 and sustained maximum winds of 215 miles per hour after which it continued along the coast of southwest Florida, leaving in its wake a wake of devastation and floods in cities like Naples or Jacksonville.

A resident of Key Marathon holds trousers taken in a donation of clothing and food destined to help those affected by Hurricane Irma today, Sunday, September 17, 2017, in Marathon Key south of the state of Florida (USA) . EFE

On Saturday, Monroe County officials reported that at least 9 people have been killed for reasons attributable to Irma, which left the county authorities to prevent the return of residents until this weekend.

To date, 37% of homes and offices in this county are not yet supplied with electricity, while, throughout the state, a total of 675,753 customers of electricity operators, or 6.44% of accounts, is in the same situation, according to data from the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

According to this office, of the peak of 6.7 million customers that were left in the dark a week ago, 93.5% now have energy, following the work of restoring the power line by a battalion of more than 30,000 workers .

In Miami-Dade, the state’s most populous, 11 percent still have no power supply, including some colleges, however, authorities in this school district today announced that classes will resume Monday after the closure of the classrooms on September 6 as a precautionary measure.

The announcement of this school district follows that of neighboring Broward County, which this weekend also confirmed that classes will resume on Monday. At Monroe, however, and where there is still a night curfew in some areas, classes will not restart until September 25.

To the deaths occurred in the Keys must be added the 8 elderly people who died in an asylum in the city of Hollywood, north of Miami, in a case has deserved the repulsion of the authorities and even a claim of relatives of the victims .

Lawyers on behalf of Albertina Vega, 99, one of the victims, filed an “emergency complaint” in a Broward County court aimed at preserving documents and videos, although local law enforcement authorities have already opened a criminal investigation into this fact.

Between the night of Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, eight people aged between 70 and 96 died because of problems due to the lack of air conditioning in this closed center, while another 115 were evacuated.

The provisional figure for deaths related to Hurricane Irma in the southeastern US (Florida, Georgia and South Carolina) amounts to at least 39, according to information and even without knowing the final balance of material damages and losses, which will take months to be determined.

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