It’s still early yet, and we don’t have a good idea of the extent of the damage in newer hurricane victim countries like the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, but it appears any place Irma hit in her rampage is being flattened. Pictures and news are beginning to filter out of the islands of Barbuda and St. Martin, and the news is not good:
A powerful Hurricane Irma, churned its way across the tiny island, leaving at least one person dead and millions of dollars in damages. An infant was killed during the monster hurricane, according to Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne.
“I journeyed to Barbuda this afternoon and what I saw was heart-wrenching, absolutely devastating,” Browne said on state-owned television.
“In fact, I believe that on a per capita basis, the extent of the destruction in Barbuda is unprecedented. And it is unprecedented based on the type of storm. Hurricane Irma would have been easily the most powerful hurricane to have stormed through the Caribbean and it is extremely unfortunate that Barbuda was right in its path.”
“From my observation, having done an aerial survey, I would say that about 95 percent of the properties would have suffered some level of damage, they would have lost at least a part of their roofs, some have lost whole roofs, some properties have been totally demolished, it is absolutely heart-wrenching.
“In fact, you know that we are threatened now by yet another storm, Hurricane Jose, and if that is the case and it’s coming our way then clearly we would have to evacuate the residents of Barbuda. In fact, I am of the view that as it stands now Barbuda is barely habitable and if we have yet another storm coming in a matter of days we will have to make special arrangements to evacuate all Barbudans and bring them over here [Antigua] until we can restore some level of normalcy,” he said.
Browne explained that “the island is literally under water” noting “that, in itself, represents a serious threat in terms of mosquito-borne diseases and we have to be very careful”.
Zero Hedge has a number of tweets and pictures of the devastation on the island:
Antigua & Barbuda's Prime Minister: "The way it stands now, #Barbuda is basically uninhabitable."
Photos: ABS Television/Radio. pic.twitter.com/SxJDknTvy3
— TTWeatherCenter (@TTWeatherCenter) September 6, 2017
The outlook for St. Martin is similarly grim, and there is similar talk of simply evacuating the island:
The French part of the Caribbean island St Martin – the northern section of the island that is split with the Netherlands-administered St Maarten – has been “95% destroyed”, Daniel Gibb, a local official, has told Radio Caribbean International:
“It’s an enormous catastrophe. Ninety-five percent of the island is destroyed. I’m in shock. It’s frightening.”
“I have sick people to evacuate, I have a population to evacuate because I don’t know where I can shelter them.”
Guadeloupe prefect Eric Maire said at least six people were killed in the French part of St Martin.
The French president, Emmanuel Macron, earlier said he expected Irma-related damage to St Martin and another French overseas collectivity, Saint Barthélemy (St Barts) would be “considerable”:
“It’s too soon for casualty figures … I can already tell you the toll will be harsh and cruel.”
Given the level of destruction in Saint Martin and Barbuda, along with the reports I have been seeing from Anguilla (special thanks to commenter JimFreedom for keeping us informed of developments there), I am expecting St. Thomas and St. John in the US Virgin Islands to be similarly devastated. Puerto Rico may be spared the worst of the devastation, as the eyewall of the hurricane passed just north of the country’s coast.
The question the US government needs to start asking what we are going to do with tens of thousands of people who have been displaced. Will we have to evacuate St. Thomas and St. John? This is going to be a major challenge for the government going forward, and that presumes Miami doesn’t take a big hit.