Surveying Irma's Caribbean Devastation: “It Was End-Of-World Times…People Are Roaming Like Zombies”
As much of Florida is left flooded and without power from this weekend’s hurricane, the damage across much of the Caribbean goes well beyond water damage and downed power lines with many describing the devastation left by Irma as “end-of-the-world times.” As one resident of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands told the Washington Post, “it was beyond rough times, it was end-of-the-world times…everything normal to us has been destroyed.”
On St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, “people there are roaming like zombies,” said Stacey Alvarado, a bar owner who managed to leave for the mainland. Her husband, who is still there, told her Sunday that residents and tourists are in shock. “They don’t know what to do. The island was wiped out. It’s like the walking dead down there.” Other islanders sent social media messages pleading for help, decrying looting and a series of armed burglaries.
“We need help,” wrote St. John blogger Jenn Manes. “We need the United States government to step up. We need military. We need security.”
Lauren Boquette, a 48-year-old restaurant manager on St. John, said his family had barricaded themselves in the bathroom of their home. When they emerged, he said, they saw a scene of total destruction.
“It was beyond rough times, it was end-of-the-world times. Everything normal to us has been destroyed,” he said.
Some of the hardest-hit places were those in the Leeward Islands like St. Martin and St. Barts,
where 11 people have reportedly died.
Meanwhile, aerial videos surfacing from the British Virgin Islands reveal just how extensive the damage across much of the Caribbean was.
As Irma hits Florida, don’t forget the horrific damage it has inflicted on the Caribbean pic.twitter.com/FvpOq9es4g
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) September 11, 2017
— Weather Network US (@TheWeatherNetUS) September 9, 2017
But it wasn’t just the Leeward Islands that were devastated by Irma as the entire island of Cuba has reportedly been left without power and the AP is reporting that 39 buildings have collapsed in a single city.
In Cuba, where the government said it had evacuated 1 million residents, Hurricane Irma’s driving winds and pelting rains sent roofs flying, knocked over trees, wrecked building and caused large-scale flooding along the northern coast. Officials in Havana warned of flooding that would last through Monday. In the city of Santa Clara, the Associated Press reported that 39 buildings had collapsed.
As streets turned into rivers, authorities took to inflatable rafts to access coastal neighborhoods. Some Cubans had even sought shelter in caves. The brutal storm struck Cuba along a coast studded with resorts that are among the pillars of the island’s economy. Authorities warned of heavy damage from the storm, which has killed at least 25 people across the Caribbean.
“The hardest-hit provinces are Camaguey, Villa Clara, Sancti Spiritus and to some extent Matanzas, the resort area of Varadero, which was directly in the path of the hurricane and where all the tourists were evacuated,” Richard Paterson, the CARE organization’s representative in Cuba, said by phone from Havana.
“Power has been turned off throughout the city, in fact, throughout the country,” he said. “The electricity infrastructure received extensive serious damage.”
Meanwhile, you know it’s a serious storm when even billionaires like Richard Branson can’t build structures strong enough to survive.
Billionaire Richard Branson shared footage of the damage to his home in the British Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma pic.twitter.com/IFtIIgvbgF
— CNN International (@cnni) September 11, 2017