Hurricane Irma has reportedly devastated the island of Barbuda, having passed over it early this morning. Residents of Antigua And Barbuda were awakened to howling winds and debris clattering against their homes. Eyewitnesses say that the seas around Barbuda rose more than two meters. Given that the island is only 38 meters above sea level at its highest point, there are now fears that many people have drowned. The full extent of the damage won't be known for some time but authorities have confirmed that several roofs were blown off.

Communications cut in Barbuda

Nicknamed the "Land of 365 Beaches", Antigua and Barbuda is a sovereign state in the Americas, known more popularly for being part of the Lesser Antilles in the caribbean.

Antiguan officials have confirmed that many power lines have been uprooted in Barbuda, mobile phone signals are currently down and water supplies have been turned off nationwide. As many homes on the islands are not built on concrete foundations, a lot of structural damage is expected to be reported.

Irma is one of the most powerful storms to be recorded. With winds of 185mph and strengthening, authorities are warning that it could be especially catastrophic if it hits islands at high tides. Storm surges are expected to reach seven feet and more in some places. Irma is currently passing over the islands of St Barts and St Martin, with power at the St Bart's weather station completely knocked out. It is traveling in a west-north-westerly direction at 15mph toward Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Cuba.

Evacuations ordered

The natural disaster is also expected to affect, to some degree, St. Kitts and Nevis, the US Virgin Islands and the Bahamas before making its way to Florida over the weekend. A 36- hour curfew began this morning in the US Virgin Islands as heavy rain and winds were expected. Evacuations have been ordered in several areas, including six southern islands in the Bahamas. Officials there have canceled vacation time for members of the police and defense forces. In Florida, a state of emergency has been declared in all of its 67 counties and 100 members of the Florida National Guard are on active duty across the state. Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez confirms that voluntary evacuations may begin this afternoon and has called on residents to stock up on at least three days' worth of food and water. Tourists and others are being urged to immediately leave coastal areas and Miami beach.

While thousands would be pleased to see the end of Irma, a new threat looms ahead. Tropical Storm Jose is currently located over the Atlantic Ocean and is located approximately 1,255 miles east of the Lesser Antilles. The National Hurricane Center confirms it has maximum sustained winds of 60 mph and is strengthening. It is expected to turn into a Hurricane by Wednesday night and beat its path to some of the same islands currently being battered by Hurricane Irma.