Over the past few days, Hurricane Irma has devastated islands in the Caribbean, Cuba, and parts of Florida. The Category 5 hurricane has since downgraded to a tropical storm, but the damage it caused will take years to recover from. On the island of Barbuda, for example, “95 percent” of buildings were destroyed. Others, like Saint Martin and Barthelemy, have no water or electricity and food resources are running low.
Media coverage of the islands of Saint Martin and Barthelemy show extensive amounts of damage. Reuters reports that many streets remain submerged, boats and cars are piled on top of each other in multiple locations, and numerous houses have had their rooftops ripped off.
To make matters worse, looting is rampant. One Saint Martin resident told BFM TV that she heard gunshots and had seen several people breaking into homes and shops to steal food. According to the French interior ministry, police forces have been boosted on the two islands following close to 500 reports of violence and looting following Irma’s passing. 11 people have also been arrested for “malicious actions.”
Between the two islands, at least 10 people have been killed. The Caisse Centrale de Reassurance, a state-owned reinsurance group in France, said Irma will go down as one of “the most damaging disasters in decades on French territory.” Losses total a staggering 1.2 billion euros, or $1.44 billion USD.