By Don Burgess
HAMILTON, Bermuda (Reuters) – Cleanup crews in Bermuda were busy at work on Thursday after Hurricane Humberto grazed the island, which escaped major harm despite winds that reached around 100 miles per hour (161 kph) snapping power poles and lifting off roofs.
Debris including power lines littered roads and dozens of homes lost parts of their roofs, a Reuters witness said.
“We have come through a really, really challenging night. Our country was resilient,” National Security Minister Wayne Caines said in a radio message.
The Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service said it attended to three structural fires and 17 hurricane-related fires and also helped with 20 damaged roofs and prevented a boat from sinking.
One fire service vehicle was rendered unusable after a tree fell on it.
As of noon local time some 25,000 of the island’s 38,000 customers remained without power, while 5,000 customers have already had their electricity restored, said Caines.
The airport was reopened and flights are resuming, and a bridge to the airport was also opened after an assessment showed there was no structural damage.
Schools will remain closed on Thursday and Friday, while government office are scheduled to reopen on Friday.
Humberto was 415 miles (665 kilometers) northeast of Bermuda and packing maximum sustained winds of 110 mph (175 kph) on Thursday, the Miami-based U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
“Humberto is still a powerful hurricane, but the system is in the process of transitioning to an extratropical cyclone,” the NHC said.
“Large swells and dangerous surf generated by Humberto will continue along the coast of Bermuda during the next day or two, and these could continue to cause coastal flooding,” said the NHC.
The swells are forecast to continue affecting the northwestern Bahamas and the United States coast from east-central Florida to the Mid-Atlantic states during the next couple of days.
The Atlantic storm season has picked up pace in recent weeks.
The Bahamas is still reeling from the devastation of Hurricane Dorian. In the United States on Thursday, all flights into Houston’s international airport were halted as Tropical Depression Imelda inundated southeastern Texas with heavy rains and triggered flash flood warnings.
(Reporting by Don Burgess in Hamilton, Bermuda; Writing by Anthony Esposito; Editing by Matthew Lewis)