ST. JOHN, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS (TNS) — With 10 people reported dead in Cuba before Hurricane Irma departed the Caribbean, the region focused on recovery Monday and continued the grim task of tallying its losses.
But looming in the Atlantic was another potential threat: Hurricane Jose with highest sustained winds of 105 mph. The National Hurricane Center said it was passing well northeast of the Turks and Caicos Islands on Monday morning and was expected to turn toward the northeast Monday night through Tuesday. There were no coastal watches or warnings in effect.
The death toll for the Caribbean stood at at least 34 Monday. Seven of the deaths came in Havana, where two young women riding in a bus were killed when a fourth-story balcony crashed off a Central Havana building onto the vehicle. Three other Cubans were killed in coastal provinces when they failed to heed evacuation orders and their homes collapsed.
In the Leeward Islands, the first to encounter Irma's deadly winds and storm surge, residents complained that they were running short on food, water and medicine. Residents of Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands and Anguilla were in critical need of food, water, plywood, tarps — and cash.
After touring all of the Turks and Caicos, a British Overseas Territory, Premier Sharlene Cartwright Robin said she would ask the British governor to declare an emergency in South Caicos, the most damaged island, as well as for the capital, Gran Turk. Many homes on South Caicos lost roofs or have been reduced to rubble.
In the U.S. Virgin Islands, police were maintaining an 18-hour curfew Monday, as they continued to crack down on looting and burglaries in the wake of Irma. But the draconian curfew — which runs from 6 p.m. until noon —was also threatening efforts to bring in much-needed supplies and evacuate hundreds of stranded passengers.
On Monday, tourists who had gathered at the docks of St. John just after dawn looking for a ride off the island were turned back by the police — even as boats eventually did come.
"There are no flights, very few boats and it's all incredibly frustrating and confusing," said Joseph Welch, from Tennessee, as he sat in the shade waiting to see if more boats would arrive.
Dutch King Willem-Alexander flew to St. Maarten, which shares the island with the French dependency of St. Martin, and toured the heavily damaged Princess Juliana International Airport that is named for his grandmother.
After France was criticized for its slow response to hurricane victims, French President Emmanuel Macron was scheduled to arrive Tuesday on the French side of the ravaged island. France also plans to establish a center to provide aid to victims and an inter-ministerial committee for reconstruction of the French islands.
The European Union announced that it planned to contribute an initial 2 million euros ($2.39 million) in humanitarian aid for the most affected Caribbean islands to help with water and sanitation, health, waste management and logistics.
Teams from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency began arriving in the hardest hit Caribbean islands to coordinate relief, and a dozen United Nations Development Programme crisis recovery experts have been deployed to the region to provide assistance.
For Cuba, where massive coastal flooding has been reported, UNICEF is coordinating the purchase of 3 million chlorine tablets to help with water purification.
The Caribbean Development Bank said Monday it's in the process of providing $200,000 emergency relief grants to Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos. The money will fund damage assessments as well as help with temporary shelters for displaced people and emergency relief supplies.
The CDB also is offering loans of up to $750,000 to the affected countries.
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told the BBC Monday that the UK government plans to help for the long-term and is in the process of formulating a recovery plan for its overseas territories. Britain sent a Navy ship and nearly 500 troops to assist in the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla and Turks and Caicos, and 40 Commando Royal Marines have already arrived in B.V.I.
The damage caused by Irma's westward spin through the Caribbean is expected to be devastating to the fragile economies of the region, which are mostly dependent on tourism, financial services, fishing or agriculture. Many South Caicos fishermen lost their boats in the storm, and hotels and other tourism facilities took a hit on many islands.
The picture was brighter in the Bahamas, however. The Bahamas National Emergency Management Agency announced an all-clear for all the Bahamian islands Monday. Prime Minister Hubert Minnis and his cabinet met with disaster experts to begin conducting damage assessments in Acklins, Crooked Island, and Ragged Island, the southern Bahamian islands where Irma passed as a Category 4 hurricane.
Some Bahamian hotels, including the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar in Nassau, that had closed as Irma approached, announced they would be open for business Tuesday.
But the U.S. State Department issued an advisory warning U.S. citizens to avoid travel to the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Cuba and the Eastern Caribbean because of hazardous conditions in the aftermath of Irma and the potential threat of Hurricane Jose.
President Donald Trump has already approved disaster declarations for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The State Department said it continued to coordinate evacuation flights Monday with the Department of Defense for U.S. citizens wanting to leave hard-hit Dutch St. Maarten. Passengers arriving at the Sint Maarten Airport were advised to expect long wait times and told they could carry only one small bag, medications and other essential items aboard.
Communications infrastructure on the island has been severely damaged, and there is no U.S. consular presence on either the French or Dutch side of the island, the State Department said.
The Department of Defense also has approved an evacuation request for the British Virgin Island but plans are still not concrete.
Jim Wyss reported for this story from St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, Jacqueline Charles from Haiti and Whitefield from Miami.