Caribbean reels from hurricane’s wrath
More than a dozen Caribbean islands lay in ruin this week after Hurricane Irma devastated the region, killing nearly 40 people and turning lush paradises into post-apocalyptic wastelands. The storm struck with Category 5 force, with wind speeds of 185 miles per hour, bringing punishing waves and lashing rain that flooded cities and towns across Cuba, Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barts, and beyond. Wide swaths of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands were reduced to rubble; in some areas, Irma leveled 90 percent of the buildings. Amid the chaos and desperation were widespread reports of looting and other crimes. On Tortola in the B.V.I., as many as 100 “high-risk” prisoners broke free, seized weapons, and roamed the island, as British Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan warned of “the complete breakdown of law and order.” On St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, National Guard troops patrolled the streets and the Coast Guard helped evacuate vacationers to cruise ships bound for Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Many of the islands are territories of distant European nations, complicating relief efforts and leaving many residents feeling abandoned. Surveying damage in St. Martin and St. Barts, French President Emmanuel Macron promised “to rebuild not just a new life but also a better life.” British foreign secretary Boris Johnson toured the B.V.I. and Anguilla amid widespread criticism that London had been slow to respond. “We are feeling very much like the stepchild,” said Anguillan lawyer Josephine Gumbs-Connor.
Surveying the devastation in St. Martin