ST. JOHN'S, Antigua (AP) — The most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history bore down on the islands of the northeast Caribbean late Tuesday, following a path predicted to then rake Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly heading for Florida over the weekend.
At the far northeastern edge of the Caribbean, authorities on the Leeward Islands of Antigua and Barbuda cut power and urged residents to shelter indoors as they braced for Hurricane Irma's first contact with land early Wednesday.
Officials warned people to seek protection from Irma's "onslaught" in a statement that closed with: "May God protect us all."
The Category 5 storm had maximum sustained winds of 185 mph (295 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.
"I hear it's a Cat 5 now and I'm terrified," Antigua resident Carol Joseph said as she finished her last trip to the supermarket before seeking shelter. "I had to come back for more batteries because I don't know how long the current will be off."
Other islands in the path of the storm included the U.S. and British Virgin Islands and Anguilla, a small, low-lying British island territory of about 15,000 people.