Caribbean Islands already devastated by a deadly hurricane are preparing for another dangerous storm.
Following the path of category 5 Hurricane Irma, the most intense in the Atlantic since 2007, Hurricane Maria is expected to “strengthen significantly” over Monday night.
The eye of the storm is expected to move through the Leeward Islands late this afternoon or evening as Maria “rapidly intensifies into a major hurricane”, according to the US National Hurricane Centre.
Warnings have been issued for the British and US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico where the storm is expected to make landfall by the middle of the week.
At least 55 people died as Huricane Irma swept across the Caribbean and the southern US. Infrastructure on many Caribbean Islands was damaged by the storm and this is expected to worsen as Maria hits.
The storm destroyed 90% of buildings on the island of Barbuda, the airport was damaged, 50% of residents were left homeless and the population was evacuated to nearby Antigua.
The British Virgin Islands were also severly impacted. The Foreign Office said: ”Access to medical supplies, food and water are extremely limited and power supplies have been affected. Communications have been damaged in the region, including mobile phone networks.
” You should be aware that our ability to provide assistance to you is extremely limited at this time.”
A statement released by the US National Hurricane Centre on Monday morning said Maria will “strengthen significantly” and “is expected to be at major hurricane intensity when it affects portions of the Leeward Islands over the next few days, bringing dangerous wind, storm surge and rainfall hazards.”
The statement continued: “Maria is likely to affect the British and US Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by mid-week as a dangerous major hurricane.
“Hurricane watches have been issued for the US and British Virgin Islands as well as for Puerto Rico.
“Interests in these areas should monitor the progress of Maria and follow any advice given by local officials.”
Florida Senator Marco Rubio said on Twitter: “Everyone in Florida should take a few minutes today to plan just in case find [sic] ourselves with a threat from a Hurricane Maria later this week.”
Governor Jeb Bush tweeted a link to the National Hurricane Centre and said “Maria is Coming.”