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An Irish couple's baby arrived 'just in the nick of time' - hours before Hurricane Irma hit

18 have died as Hurricane Irma devastates the Caribbean.

AS HURRICANE IMRA rages through the Caribbean, an Irish couple have recounted their story – as their baby was born just hours before the storm hit their home in the Turks and Caicos.

Joe Ryan, who was waiting in a hotel with his family for the hurricane to pass during the interview, spoke on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland about their relief when their daughter Meabh was born.

While the baby was due last Saturday, Ryan’s wife, Clare, only went into labour yesterday, he explained:

The child was due to come on Saturday. As things happened it went over its due date and we were obviously getting anxious because we could see the storm coming there. But luckily Clare went into labour yesterday and delivered a baby so in that sense we were very lucky that she didn’t have to stay in a hospital tonight.

He describes the birth as being “just in the nick of time”. Had Meabh not arrived yesterday, Clare would have had to spend the night in the hospital, separated from her husband and their three-year-old son Oisín.

The family has lived on the Turks and Caicos for seven years.

St. Maarten Hurricane Irma The island of St Martin was devastated by Irma GERBEN VAN ES / PA GERBEN VAN ES / PA / PA

The islands were hit by Irma today, with waves as high as six metres expected. In recent hours, reports have emerged that the majority of the communications systems have gone down on the islands, leaving the extent of damage unclear for now.

The islands, located about 1,000km from Miami in the US, are a British overseas territory with a population of about 32,000. As a nature hotspot, the island’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism.

Ryan said that his family felt safe on the fifth floor of a hotel, bar some fear that the hotel could flood, or that hurricane-proof window shutters wouldn’t hold up.

Their biggest concern, he said, was how the island would look when the storm passes: “I’m more anxious about what we’re going to wake up to in the morning and how the island is going to look and where we’re going to go from there.”

We’re all in the hotel together so we’re very grateful for how it worked out. Tomorrow is what we’re really kind of dreading waking up to.

They evacuated their home due to predictions that the area would be flooded, Ryan said:

We were set up in the house, we had a generator, we had all our windows boarded up and everything but we just said that if the water comes into the house we couldn’t stay there so we just decided to move out before we had to face that.

Hurricane records

Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century, has already devastated islands and left at least 18 dead as it has passes over islands in the direction of Cuba, the Bahamas and Florida.

About 95% of the islands of Barbuda and St Martin sustained some damage or were outright destroyed, officials have said.

hurricanecentre The location and projected path of Irma at 4pm today National Hurricane Centre National Hurricane Centre

The category-four super storm has generated winds of up to 295 kilometres an hour for more than 33 hours. This is longer than any cyclone of a comparable power that has ever been recorded, according to France’s weather service.

Over half a million people were ordered to evacuate south Florida last night, with authorities now warning that everyone should leave the Florida Keyes immediately. It is expected to hit south Florida tomorrow.

Preparations are underway in other countries expected to be devastated by Irma, with Cuba evacuating tourists and warning residents to move inland.

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