Massive destruction from Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean

Friday, September 8, 2017
Damage from Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean
Videos of he damage from Hurricane Irma in the Caribbean

NEW YORK -- A look at the impact of Hurricane Irma on individual countries and territories Friday as it tears across the Caribbean:


One death was reported in the British territory of Anguilla, which suffered widespread damage to its electricity infrastructure, water supply, and government buildings among other structures. The United Kingdom said Irma inflicted "severe and in places critical" damage to the territory. By late Thursday, the airport runway had been cleared of debris as a crew from a British military ship assisted with the recovery.


Aided by fishing boats and other private vessels, the government was evacuating residents of storm-battered Barbuda to its sister island of Antigua ahead of Hurricane Jose. Islanders clutching salvaged possessions were lined up at wharves and the airport. Irma devastated the island of some 1,400 people, and there were few structures left standing to provide shelter. A 2-year-old child was swept to his death after the storm ripped the roof off the family's house.


Four deaths were reported in the British territory, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. The storm caused major damage to the largest and most populated island of Tortola, where video of the hillside capital, Road Town, showed the scattered wreckage of buildings and piles of debris. The emergency agency said there was a critical need for security amid instances of looting. Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, who rode out the storm at his home on private Necker island, said entire houses disappeared and the area was "completely and utterly devastated."


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''Hurricane Irma Turns Caribbean Islands Brown,'' NASA Earth wrote on Twitter.


Thousands of tourists were evacuated from low-lying keys off the coast dotted with all-inclusive resorts ahead of the storm's approach. All residents of the area were under mandatory evacuation orders from the Cuban government, which was moving tens of thousands of people from vulnerable coastline.


About a million people were without power in Puerto Rico, which was spared a direct hit as Irma passed to the north. Nearly half the territory's hospitals were relying on generators. No injuries were reported.


Irma ripped off roofs and knocked out electricity to the French island of St. Barts. Video footage of the storm's aftermath showed cars and boats strewn about the island. French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said most of the schools were destroyed on St. Barts and St. Martin and "we'll need to rebuild both islands."


At least five people died on St. Martin, an island split between the Dutch Sint Maarten and French St. Martin. Homes were splintered, schools were destroyed and the cafes and clothing shops of the French seaside village of Marigot were submerged in brown floodwaters. Authorities reported gunfire amid looting of televisions as well as food and water. Sint Maarten Prime Minister William Marlin said the government anticipates a serious housing shortage and is already fretting over a lost tourist season. "We foresee a loss of the tourist season because of the damage that was done to hotel properties, the negative publicity that one would have that it's better to go somewhere else because it's destroyed - so that will have a serious impact on our economy," he said in an interview with the Dutch military.


Communications went down as the hurricane battered the Turks and Caicos Islands early Friday and the extent of the damage was unclear. The British territory had urged coastal residents to move to higher ground, warning of waves as high as 20 feet (6 meters).


Four deaths were reported in the U.S. Virgin Islands and officials on St. Thomas said they expected to find more bodies as crews struggled to reopen roads and restore power. The hospital on St. Thomas was destroyed and the harbor was in ruins, along with hundreds of homes and dozens of businesses. Adrien Reinhardt said houses in her neighborhood were leveled, and many people had a week's worth of food and water. "Let people know: We need food, we need supplies to survive," she said.

More Hurricane Irma coverage.