Hurricane Irma made landfall on Cuba as a Category 5 hurricane on Cuba’s northern coast on Friday before moving on to Florida over the weekend. As everyone who has watched or listed to the news of the past week knows, this monster storm left a huge trail of damage and destruction as it roared throughout the Caribbean.
As promised, Yellow Dog has been tracking how the storm has effected the lodges, fisheries and angling destinations throughout the Caribbean, and we wanted to share what recent news we have for the areas in which we operate. While reports of damage have been slow to trickle in, we will continue to post more details throughout the week as the areas hardest hit are accessed.
Hurricane Irma made landfall as a category 5 hurricane on Friday, September 8th. Storm surge inundated the streets of Havana with wave heights as high as 26 feet. The famous Havana malecon was underwater and closed for the weekend as a result of the storm surge.
Cayo Romano / Cayo Cruz
- Cayo Cruz suffered a direct hit from the eye of the Hurricane, and the island is currently cut off from mainland. Everyone who was on the key is fine, although roofs were torn from many buildings. Avalon Fishing Centers reports that their fishing skiffs survived the storm.
- The Jardines del Rey Airport at Cayo Coco was destroyed. Because of the importance of tourism in these northern cays for Cuba, on Sunday, the Cuban government announced that the heavily damaged tourism infrastructure on the north coast would be “rebuilt before the start of the high season in December.”
- The road between mainland Cuba and Cayo Coco was severely damaged and is currently being repaired.
Gardens of the King (Jardines del Rey)
- The mainland towns of Caibarien and Remedios were both hit hard with damaging winds and subsequent flooding.
- Reports from the Iberostar Resort have not yet been received. Road repair to the causeway is underway.
Gardens of the Queen (Jardines de la Reina), Cayo Largo, Isla de la Juventud, Playa Larga, Las Salinas and the Zapata Peninsula
- All of the fisheries off of the southern coast of Cuba (those listed above) had little impact from Hurricane Irma. Fishing programs will continue in these areas for the fall and winter seasons without any negative effects.
- Power and infrastructure was affected in the towns of Camaguey and Ciego de Avila (en route to Jucaro Port and Jardines de la Reina). The Cuban government is working to restore power and clear roadways.
Hurricane Irma passed over the southern Bahamas late last week and without any direct hits on most of the islands in that area. So far, we have had reports of minor damage in the southern island area that includes Crooked, Acklins, Mayaguana and Long Island. Ragged Island appears to have sustained more serious damage with a direct hit, and Inagua also suffered ever storm damage. The central and northern Bahamas, including the islands of Andros, Grand Bahama and Abaco suffered very little damage. We’ve heard from several of our lodge owners who have informed us that they sustained absolutely no damage of very minimal damage.The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism announced that the islands of the Bahamas will continue normal operations as of Monday, September 11, 2017. To date, we have received the following emails and notes from these Bahamian fishing lodges:
Tiamo Resort (Andros)
“No damage to our property.”
Broad Shad Cay (Andros)
“All is well with us. Only gusts of rain with wind. We’re just fine.”
Two Boys Inn (Andros)
“All Safe and looking forward to a great season.”
Stella Maris Inn (Long Island)
“Irma passed us 100 miles to our west> Stella Maris and Long Island are in great shape.”
Small Hope Bay Lodge (Andros)
“Small Hope Bay, their staff, and all of Andros came through the storm with little to no damage. We are so grateful that we were spared the worst of Hurricane Irma and we are back to our normal schedule: remodeling and preparing for our 58th season opening on October 18th.”
Deadman’s Cay (Long Island)
“We’re fine. The worst passed to the south of us.”
Crooked Island Lodge (Crooked Island)
“Just heard from guide Shakey. It sounds like Crooked has only minor damage.”
The reality is that one of the best ways to support any of the areas and the fishing operations that have been impacted by Hurricane Irma is to book a trip for the near future! From a fishing standpoint (and typically with storms of this magnitude), these saltwater flats fisheries can actually improve post-storm, and the fishing can be very good after a major storm rolls through an area. On top of this, bringing tourist dollars back into areas that have been hit is one of the best ways to support effected communities.
Obviously, the damage to the Florida Keys is horrific, and we are still awaiting word from the guides and operations that we work in the Keys as well as the Turks and Caicos – another area that was hit incredibly hard. We will continue to track developments and storm impacts in the days and weeks ahead and provide updates on our blog.