Friday 1 June, marks the official start of the 2018 hurricane season.
Forecasters are predicting an average season with about 13 named storms, six of which will become hurricanes and two major hurricanes.
The 2017 season will be remembered for major Hurricanes Irma and Maria – two Category Five storms which battered the Caribbean within one week during the months of September. The ferocity of these mega storms brought devastation to a number of CARICOM Member States. In Dominica, Hurricane Maria decimated decades of development gains, impacting over 200 percent of the island state’s GDP. Barbuda, the smaller of the two-island state of Antigua and Barbuda lost over 95 percent of its buildings. Other severely affected islands were Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos Islands. Haiti and St. Kitts and Nevis also suffered damage.
CARICOM Chairman, Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell of Grenada and Secretary-General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque led a delegation which toured affected territories and met the people of the communities as well as disaster and government officials.
Recovery costs surpass $5 billion, according to the estimates presented by the countries and territories. In some instances, the impact was 3.5 times countries’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
To help meet the urgent needs of the affected islands the CARICOM-UN High-Level Pledging Conference: Building a More Climate-Resilient Community was held at UN Headquarters in New York on 21 November, with the Secretaries-General of CARICOM and the UN in attendance. The Conference mobilized a broad partnership to support reconstruction efforts, including through over US$1.3 billion in pledges and over US1 billion in loans and debt relief.