Damage following Hurricane Irma is seen in Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Photo: Joel Rouse /Royal Navy / MoD / Crown / REUTERS

By Anthony Faiola
10 September 2017

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (The Washington Post) – The storm-stricken Caribbean took on the feel of a sprawling disaster zone Sunday, with Cuban first responders using inflatable rafts to navigate flooded streets as panicked families sent up social-media pleas in search of loved ones on hard-hit islands further east.

In 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.”

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 so far 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 hurricanes 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.” […]

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. [more]

‘People are roaming like zombies.’ Virgin Islands stagger after storm passes.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Excellent post, people need to have a sense of what it's like on the ground and the human suffering. Posts like yours will bolster aid efforts.  


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