With losses from Hurricane Irma expected to reach record levels, payments have already been approved for three Caribbean countries from the CCRIF SPC, formerly known as the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility.
The category five system which is said to be one of the worst hurricanes in history has already triggered $US15.6 million (EC$42, 170.161) in payments from the fund, which was set up in 2007 to help the region mitigate the effects of disasters.
Of that amount, US$6.7 million (EC$18.3 million) will go to Antigua and Barbuda, where prime minister Gaston Browne has already declared a state of emergency on Barbuda, which has been deemed “uninhabitable” with preliminary assessments suggesting that it could take about US$37 million (EC$100 million) to rebuild the annihilated island.
“I want to tell you it will cost hundreds of millions because most of the property there are not salvageable,” Browne said after seeing first hand the devastation caused on Antigua’s sister isle where one death has been reported.
With another hurricane — Jose — currently taking aim at the northern Caribbean, authorities in Anguilla are also desperately trying to pick up the pieces from Irma, which has been blamed for one death and substantial damage to homes, buildings and infrastructure on the British Overseas Territory. The island is scheduled to receive an initial payment of US$6.5 million (EC$17.6 million) from the CCRIF SPC, which is currently carrying out another assessment to determine if Antigua and Barbuda and Anguilla, which have Excess Rainfall (XSR) policies, should receive a second payout.
In the case of St Kitts and Nevis which also suffered some damage, the government is set to receive US$2.2 million (EC$6.1 million) from the regional fund.
“CCRIF is verifying the payout calculations and is in discussion with the three governments about making arrangements for transfer of these payouts, which will be completed within 14 days after the event – as mandated by CCRIF’s operational guidelines,” said the insurers, who are due to meet in the coming days to look at additional financial help for affected countries.
In the meantime, even before Irma has completed her deadly trek across the Caribbean, disaster risk experts in Germany have sought to put a figure on the losses suffered as a result of the storm.
“This will likely be a $10 billion loss across the Caribbean- a huge loss”, said James Daniell, head of the Centre for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM) and senior risk engineer with the forensic disaster analysis group.
The estimate did not include Barbuda or Anguilla, but in Dutch St Maarten losses were estimated at US$2.5 billion; US$2.45 billion in the US Virgin Islands, US$1.55 billion in French St Martin and $1.4 billion in the British Virgin Islands.
Daniell noted that the estimate was likely to rise with Irma still likely to affect the Bahamas and Cuba. The hurricane also slammed into the Turks and Caicos, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.
“The Caribbean tally is sure to rise as the superstorm hits the Bahamas on its way toward Florida, but [it has] already surpassed the costs — excluding the United States and Mexico — inflicted by Hurricanes Ike in 2008 and Hugo in 1989 [US$9.4 billion each, in 2017],” Daniell was quoted by AFP as saying.