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From Barbuda to Miami: social media captures Irma’s path of destruction

Hurricane Irma is a storm that the world probably won’t forget. The storm is among the most intense for a number of reasons, and has slashed a number of long-standing records for cyclones and hurricanes alike. But it has also carved a furrow of destruction through some of the Caribbean’s poorest, most vulnerable countries, and the Florida peninsula.

The like of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter users have witnessed this destruction first hand, with many broadcasting the storm’s arrival live, or tweeting about the destruction after it passes.

Read more: catch Memeburn’s additional Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Jose and Katia coverage

More than 13 people are confirmed to have died as a result of the storm, while the damage (at least for now) can only be quantified in images and video.

Barbuda and Antigua were among the first islands to see Irma’s wrath. The storm struck the nation last week Wednesday, bringing with it sustained wind in excess of 280km/h. A quartet of rowers living on Antigua posted videos of the aftermath to Facebook.

This particular smartphone video, republished by Fox News, depicts the force of Irma from a hotel. It has been viewed over 2.6-million times since Sunday.

On Twitter, Barbuda trended across the world for much of the week, as images flooded the social network.

Antigua and Barbuda PM Gaston Browne called the latter “basically uninhabitable”.

Eyewitnesses on the ialand told their stories to One Caribbean TV.

Antiguans, although rattled themselves, thought of their Barbuda neighbours.

The US and British Virgin Islands were also hit by Irma.

Richard Branson, who owns Necker Island in the US Virgin Islands chain, waited out the storm from his wine cellar.

St. Maarten also experienced massive damage to its airport and other structures.

The island experienced category 5-force winds, heavy rain and a massive storm surge.

Puerto Rico, Cuba and Turks and Caicos Islands were next in line.

US President Donald Trump declared Puerto Rico a major disaster area on 10 September. Around 900 000 residents were left without power — over 70% of the country’s population.

Remarkably, Irma reshaped the Turks and Caicos Islands’ coastline.

Cuba’s northern coastline took the brunt of the storm’s wind and storm surge.

Published to the BBC’s Facebook page, this video depicting the damage in Cuba accrued over a million views since Sunday.

Irma made landfall over the Florida Keys and Bahamas through late Saturday into Sunday, but it wasn’t all about the storm surge.

In the Bahamas, the ocean was nowhere to be seen.

Irma also sucked ocean water out to sea as she passed along the Florida coast.

But the Keys soon faced the converse effects: the storm surge. Storm sirens added to an already eerie atmosphere.

In less severe circumstances, some were mildly embarrassed by the rough surf.

But the wind damage was difficult to quantify. This video by StormChasingVideo, watched over 5.3-million times, does a good job portraying the desctruction.

Hurricane Irma then struck the Florida peninsula late Sunday as a category 3 storm. Rainbands however were felt in southern Florida as early as Saturday.

When the hurricane-force winds eventually arrived…

…a number of the city’s cranes collapsed.

Miami International Airport was shuttered, and in many places, shattered.

Hurricane Irma, as of Tuesday, is no more. The storm has been downgraded to a tropical depression, and will likely peter out over the coming days. But it’s destruction will live on in the memories of countless individuals and social media.

Feature image: Florida National Guard via Flickr (CC 2.0 BY, resized)