Irma left a trail of destruction across U.S Virgin Islands
CHARLOTTE AMALIE, Virgin Islands — The U.S. Virgin Islands no longer has the air of paradise.
From above, the islands resemble conflict zones. The grassy hillsides are now brown. Leafless tree trunks jut out like burned toothpicks. Sailboats are stranded on the rocky coasts. On the ground, it is worse. The Red Hook harbour in St. Thomas was desolate on a recent visit after hurricane Irma except for a few stragglers trying to leave. Newly homeless residents in Tutu Valley idled in 32 C heat outside their ravaged homes. On St. John, which was hit the hardest of the three islands, supply helicopters buzzed over the once-powdery beaches where vacationers had soaked up the sun.
Outside what was left of a housing project on St. Thomas, a young man opened the doors of his white van and played jazz music, the notes echoing in the now-exposed apartments. Nearby, the wall behind Ureen Smith Fahie’s grey couch had been blasted away. A breeze blew over the rubble inside her apartment. I asked what she would have for dinner. She did not give much of an answer.
Cars congested the winding roads, with fallen utility poles visible across the landscape. When the curfew lifts, residents head to food pantries and supermarkets before they open to beat the hours-long line for water, ready-to-eat meals and tarps to cover roofs. Ice was the most sought-after commodity, to quench children’s thirst and to preserve perishable foods.
Amid desperation and isolation, residents showed resilience.
Some neighbours gathered around a grill outside a building in Tutu. They shared what food they had salvaged.
“I see a light at the end of the tunnel,” said St. Clair Desilivia, 58, who was gathered there. “We’ve got to stick together.”
A boat wrecked by hurricane Irma in Cruz Bay on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. On St. John, supply helicopters buzzed over the once-powdery beaches where vacationers had soaked up the sun.