Hurricane Gonzalo was upgraded Tuesday evening to a Category 3 storm, only the during the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season.
Although Gonzalo was back over open water, the storm left its mark across the Caribbean, killing one person in St. Maarten, disrupting travel and causing structural damage to homes in Antigua and the Caribbean islands.
The storm killed one elderly man in the Dutch Caribbean territory of St. Maarten who was aboard a boat in Simpson Bay Lagoon. Over 20 boats sunk in the Lagoon during the storm.
“It was a big storm, much bigger than people predicted, and a lot of bad things happened,” Susan Cuniff, who runs a hotel in front of the Lagoon said in a phone interview. “Boats crashed into each other and trees were downed and even the zoo was decimated.”
Two more people are missing, one man who was last seen on a boat near the French Carrbbean territory or St. Martin and another man standing near a harbor in St. Barts.
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Hundreds of power outages were reported on the north coast of Puerto Rico, but the U.S. territory escaped major damage because Gonzalo’s eyewall remained miles off the coast as it passed by.
The storm’s biggest impacts on Tuesday were on the shared island that is home to the Dutch and French territories of St. Maarten and St. Martin. Most of the Dutch Caribbean territory was without water and electricity Tuesday, and residents reported losing roofs, doors and windows.
Amy Arrindell, vice president of the St. Maarten Zoological and Botanical Foundation, said the St. Maarten Zoo was heavily damaged and that trees were uprooted, the petting zoo was destroyed and the animals’ enclosures were flooded. Thankfully, no animals were injured or hurt.
“There is major damage to the structure,” she said. “It is total devastation.”
Antigua and the Leeward Islands took the brunt of the storm on Monday, when Gonzalo was still a Tropical Storm, downing trees, ripping roofs off of homes and causing at least 12 minor injuries on the island nation of around 80,000 people.
Winds, which gusted up to 88 mph, damaged a luxury hotel on the west coast of Antigua, tourists told The Weather Channel.
“The walls blew off. A tree landed on our room. We were shaking hiding in our closet, ” said Alexis Sherry of New York City, who is staying at Hermitage Bay resort with her husband, Jason Savage. “I thought we were going to die.”
Sherrod James, Antigua’s deputy director of the National Office of Disaster Services, said the agency has received reports of damaged homes but no injuries or deaths from the storm.
According to the Associated Press, , including that of 36-year-old teacher Condell Maurice.
“You should have seen us with our buckets, jugs and bowls trying to chase down those leaks,” Maurice told the Associated Press. Power outages were reported across the island and four emergency shelters were opened.
Schools and government offices were not only closed across Antigua, but also in the British Virgin Islands, Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Caribbean News Now reports. El Vocero reports that public schools were canceled in Humacao, Puerto Rico, on the east coast of the island, in advance of Gonzalo. Classes were also canceled at the University of Puerto Rico’s Humacao campus, the paper reports.
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Gonzalo disrupted travel across the Caribbean, canceling or disrupting scheduled ferry services, flights and cruises. Ferries were docked or disrupted in the British Virgin Islands Monday, according to British Virgin Island News, and early flights out of the island Tuesday by local airline Seaborne were canceled in advance of the storm.
also canceled flights across the Caribbean on Monday, including some to Curacao and St. Maarten, Caribbean News Now notes.
Gonzalo forecasts also prompted cruise ship companies to tweak itineraries.
- Carnival Cruise Lines’ Breeze ship canceled a visit in La Romana, Dominican Republic and its Liberty and Conquest vessels switched to western Caribbean ports to avoid the storm.
- Disney Cruise Lines said the Disney Magic cruise ship rearranged its schedule Monday, stopping at the same Caribbean ports, just in a different order.
- Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas bypassed a scheduled stop in St. Maarten on Monday and headed to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
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