Democracy Dies in Darkness

The Americas

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

By Anthony Faiola

September 10, 2017 at 9:55 PM

epa06186470 Palm trees flutter due to wind and rain in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 05 September 2017. Puerto Rico is taking measures ahead of the passage of Hurricane Irma, which is on the verge of impacting the Caribbean Lesser Antilles as it reached the maximum level of category 5. EPA-EFE/Thais Llorca
CORRECTS CITY - Cyber School Supply Christopher Rodriguez is supported as he installs wood panels over a storefront window in preparation for Hurricane Irma, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. Irma grew into a dangerous Category 5 storm, the most powerful seen in the Atlantic in over a decade, and roared toward islands in the northeast Caribbean Tuesday. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
Men cover the windows of a auto parts store in preparation for Hurricane Irma, in San Juan, Puerto Rico September 5, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
TAMPA, FL - SEPTEMBER 05: Residents work together to fill sandbags for each other at Bobby Hicks Park as residents prepare ahead of Hurricane Irma on September 5, 2017 in Tampa, Florida. The National Hurricane Center (NHC) has reported that Hurricane Irma has strengthened to a Category 5 storm as it crosses into the Caribbean and is expected to move on towards Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
People buy material as part of preparations for arrival of Hurricane Irma on September 4, 2017 in Marigot, on the French overseas island of Saint-Martin. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel CHAMOISEAULIONEL CHAMOISEAU/AFP/Getty Images
Hurricane Irma, a category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds near 150 mph (240 km/h) with higher gusts, is shown in this GOES satellite image in the Atlantic Ocean east of the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, September 5, 2017. U.S. Navy photo/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
Windows of a car dealer are protected by tape and sandbags, on September 4, 2017 in Marigot, on the French overseas island of Saint-Martin, as part of preparations ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irma. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel CHAMOISEAULIONEL CHAMOISEAU/AFP/Getty Images
A woman looks at empty shelves that are normally filled with bottles of water after Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello declared a state of emergency in preparation for Hurricane Irma, in San Juan, Puerto Rico September 4, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
Cars line up for gas on Philips Highway at Baymeadows Road in Jacksonville, Fla., Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the Category 5 storm has winds of up to 185 mph (297 kph) as it approaches the Leeward Islands of the northeast Caribbean. (Will Dickey/The Florida Times-Union via AP)
Shoppers in a Home Depot store wait for plywood in the Little Havana neighborhood in Miami, Florida, September 5, 2017. Residents are preparing for the approach of Hurricane Irma. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
A man stops vehicular transit while a boat lifter transports a boat to a safer area as hurricane Irma approaches Puerto Rico in Fajardo, on September 5, 2017. In Puerto Rico, a US territory of 3.5 million, Governor Ricardo Rossello activated the National Guard and announced the opening of storm shelters able to house up to 62,000 people. The major of the Puerto Rican capital San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto, ordered 900 municipal employees -- police, emergency personnel, and aid and social workers -- to report for rotating 12-hour shifts.Even if Puerto Rico is spared a direct hit, the mayor said, three days of pounding rain will do heavy damage. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
People queue at a supermarket as they buy goods as part of preparations ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irma on September 5, 2017, in the French overseas island of Guadeloupe. Irma picked up strength and has become an "extremely dangerous" Category Five hurricane as it approached the Caribbean on September 5, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center reported. The monster hurricane, the most powerful of the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale, is about 270 miles (440 kilometers) east of the island of Antigua packing maximum sustained winds of 175 miles (280 kilometers) per hour. / AFP PHOTO / Helene VALENZUELAHELENE VALENZUELA/AFP/Getty Images
A man boards up his door as part of preparations ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irma on September 5, 2017, in the French overseas island of Guadeloupe. Irma picked up strength and has become an "extremely dangerous" Category Five hurricane as it approached the Caribbean on September 5, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center reported. The monster hurricane, the most powerful of the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale, is about 270 miles (440 kilometers) east of the island of Antigua packing maximum sustained winds of 175 miles (280 kilometers) per hour. / AFP PHOTO / Helene VALENZUELAHELENE VALENZUELA/AFP/Getty Images
Residents purchase water at BJ Wholesale in preparation for Hurricane Irma Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, in Miami. Hurricane Irma grew into a dangerous Category 5 storm, the most powerful seen in the Atlantic in over a decade, and roared toward islands in the northeast Caribbean Tuesday on a path that could eventually take it to the United States. (Roberto Koltun/Miami Herald via AP)
Jackie Kreuter, 56, of Gulfport, Fla., tosses pool furniture in the pool Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017 so it doesn't fly around during the impending hurricane. Kreuter, along with her mother, husband, sister, daughter, grandson, five dogs and a bird are boarding up their home and business and leaving for Ocala to get out of Hurricane Irma's way. (Lara Cerri/The Tampa Bay Times via AP)
Workers from a hardware store secure plywoods on top of a car as hurricane Irma approaches Puerto Rico in Bayamon, on September 5, 2017. In Puerto Rico, a US territory of 3.5 million, Governor Ricardo Rossello activated the National Guard and announced the opening of storm shelters able to house up to 62,000 people. The major of the Puerto Rican capital San Juan, Carmen Yulin Cruz Soto, ordered 900 municipal employees -- police, emergency personnel, and aid and social workers -- to report for rotating 12-hour shifts.Even if Puerto Rico is spared a direct hit, the mayor said, three days of pounding rain will do heavy damage. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
TOPSHOT - A man rides past a boarded up house as part of preparations ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Irma on September 5, 2017, in the French overseas island of Guadeloupe. Irma picked up strength and has become an "extremely dangerous" Category Five hurricane as it approached the Caribbean on September 5, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center reported. The monster hurricane, the most powerful of the five-level Saffir-Simpson scale, is about 270 miles (440 kilometers) east of the island of Antigua packing maximum sustained winds of 175 miles (280 kilometers) per hour. / AFP PHOTO / Helene VALENZUELAHELENE VALENZUELA/AFP/Getty Images
Motorists head north on US Route 1 as Hurricane Irma moves its path in the northeast Caribbean, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, in Key Largo, Fla. Wielding the most powerful winds ever recorded for a storm in the Atlantic Ocean, Hurricane Irma bore down Tuesday on the Leeward Islands of the northeast Caribbean on a forecast path that could take it toward Florida over the weekend. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
Eduardo Soriano of Miami, waits in a line since dawn to purchase plywood sheets at a Home Depot store in North Miami, Fla., Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Florida residents are preparing for the possible landfall of Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier)
In preparation of Hurricane Irma, residents of Boca Raton line up for propane in Boca Raton, Florida, U.S., September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
epa06187905 Miami residents are buying supplies to be prepared for Hurricane Irma in Miami, Florida, USA, 06 September 2017. Florida governor Rick Scott has issued a state of emergency as Hurricane is expected to affect Florida on 09 September 2017. EPA-EFE/CRISTOBAL HERRERA
Police patrol the area as Hurricane Irma slams across islands in the northern Caribbean on Wednesday, in San Juan, Puerto Rico September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Drivers wait in line for gasoline in Altamonte Springs, Fla., ahead of the anticipated arrival of Hurricane Irma, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Irma roared into the Caribbean with record force early Wednesday, its 185-mph winds shaking homes and flooding buildings on a chain of small islands along a path toward Puerto Rico, Cuba and Hispaniola and a possible direct hit on densely populated South Florida. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
Motorists head north on US 1, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, in Key Largo, Fla., in anticipation of Hurricane Irma. Keys officials announced a mandatory evacuation Wednesday for visitors, with residents being told to leave the next day. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
epa06188006 Miami residents are buying water and supplies to be prepared for Hurricane Irma in Miami, Florida, USA, 06 September 2017. Florida governor Rick Scott has issued a state of emergency as Hurricane is expected to affect Florida on 09 September 2017. EPA-EFE/CRISTOBAL HERRERA
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 06: Winston Mora and Gus Sousa (L-R) put hurricane shutters on a business as they prepare for Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 in Miami, Florida. It's still too early to know where the direct impact of the hurricane will take place but the state of Florida is in the area of possible landfall. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
General view of half-submerged vehicles, boats and debris in the flooded harbour as Hurricane Irma hits the French island territory of Saint Martin September 6, 2017, in this video grab made from footage taken from social media. Mandatory credit RCI GUADELOUPE/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVE. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE.
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 06: A sign on a business reas, 'Be Prepared Go Away Irma,' as people prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 in Miami, Florida. It's still too early to know where the direct impact of the hurricane will take place but the state of Florida is in the area of possible landfall. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
DORAL, FL - SEPTEMBER 06: Florida Governor Rick Scott gives an update to the media regarding Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 in Doral, Florida. It's still too early to know where the direct impact of the hurricane will take place but the state of Florida is in the area of possible landfall. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
A member of the Emergency Operations Committee (COE) monitors the trajectory of Hurricane Irma in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Ricardo Rojas
Hurricane Irma, a record Category 5 storm, is seen approaching Puerto Rico in this NOAA National Weather Service National Hurricane Center satellite image taken on September 6, 2017. Courtesy NOAA National Weather Service National Hurricane Center/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY
People take shelter in a school as Hurricane Irma slammed across islands in the northern Caribbean on Wednesday, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico September 6, 2017. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
Search and rescue crew members clears a fallen tree during a search mission as hurricane Irma hits Puerto Rico in Fajardo on September 6, 2017. Irma is expected to reach the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico by nightfall on September 6. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
James Byrd, left, and Richard Clark, right, load their sandbags in a truck Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, at Newtown Estates Recreation Center in Sarasota, Fla., as they prepare for Hurricane Irma. The each got their ten bags before Sarasota County ran out of sandbags for residents. The county still has plenty of dirt but residents must bring and fill their own bags. A new shipment of sandbags is expected Thursday. (Mike Lang/Sarasota Herald-Tribune via AP)
MIAMI, FL - SEPTEMBER 06: Storm clouds are seen on the horizon as people throughout South Florida prepare for Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017 in Miami, Florida. It's still too early to know where the direct impact of the hurricane will take place but the state of Florida is in the area that seems most likely to take a hit. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A picture taken on September 7, 2017 shows flooded houses in Gustavia on the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Barthelemy in the Caribbean following hurricane Irma. Hurricane Irma sowed a trail of deadly devastation through the Caribbean, reducing to rubble the tropical islands of Barbuda and St Martin and claiming at least seven lives. / AFP PHOTO / Kevin BarrallonKEVIN BARRALLON/AFP/Getty Images
A picture taken on September 7, 2017 shows wreckages in a street of Gustavia on the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Barthelemy in the Caribbean following hurricane Irma. Hurricane Irma sowed a trail of deadly devastation through the Caribbean, reducing to rubble the tropical islands of Barbuda and St Martin and claiming at least seven lives. / AFP PHOTO / Kevin BarrallonKEVIN BARRALLON/AFP/Getty Images
A picture taken on September 7, 2017 shows a flooded street in Gustavia on the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Barthelemy in the Caribbean following hurricane Irma. Hurricane Irma sowed a trail of deadly devastation through the Caribbean, reducing to rubble the tropical islands of Barbuda and St Martin and claiming at least seven lives. / AFP PHOTO / Kevin BarrallonKEVIN BARRALLON/AFP/Getty Images
Families gather at a shelter in a local church during the evening before the arrival of Hurricane Irma in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Dominicans wait for the arrival of Hurricane Irma after it lashed Puerto Rico with heavy rain and powerful winds, leaving nearly 900,000 people without power as authorities struggled to get aid to small Caribbean islands already devastated by the historic storm. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)
A man covers a bodega's windows before the arrival of Hurricane Irma in Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. Dominicans are getting ready for the arrival of Hurricane Irma after battering Puerto Rico with heavy rain and powerful winds, leaving more than 600,000 people without power as authorities struggle to get aid to small Caribbean islands already devastated by the historic storm.(AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)
High winds and rain sweep through the streets of the Matelnillo community during the passage of hurricane Irma, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. The US territory was first to declare a state of emergency las Monday, as the National Hurricane Center forecast that the storm would strike the Island Wednesday. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
This handout picture released on September 6, 2017, on the twitter account of RCI.fm shows a flooded street on the French overseas island of Saint-Martin, after high winds from Hurricane Irma hit the island. Monster Hurricane Irma slammed into Caribbean islands today after making landfall in Barbuda, packing ferocious winds and causing major flooding in low-lying areas. As the rare Category Five storm barreled its way across the Caribbean, it brought gusting winds of up to 185 miles per hour (294 kilometers per hour), weather experts said. / AFP PHOTO / RCI Guadeloupe AND TWITTER / Rinsy XIENG / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / RCI .fm / Rinsy XIENG" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS --RINSY XIENG/AFP/Getty Images
This handout picture released on September 7, 2017, by RCI.fm shows damages on the French overseas island of Saint-Martin, after high winds from Hurricane Irma hit the island. Powerful Hurricane Irma cut a swathe of deadly destruction as it roared through the Caribbean on September 6, 2017, claiming at least nine lives and turning the tropical islands of Barbuda and St Martin into mountains of rubble. / AFP PHOTO / rci.fm / Rinsy XIENG / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / RINSY XIENG / RCI.FM" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS RINSY XIENG/AFP/Getty Images
A picture released on the Facebook account of Kevin Barralon on September 7, 2017 shows a destroyed building in Gustavia on the French overseas collectivity of Saint-Barthelemy in the Caribbean following hurricane Irma. Hurricane Irma sowed a trail of deadly devastation through the Caribbean, reducing to rubble the tropical islands of Barbuda and St Martin and claiming at least seven lives. / AFP PHOTO / FACEBOOK / Kevin Barrallon / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USEKEVIN BARRALLON/AFP/Getty Images
epa06189189 A handout photo made available by the Dutch Department of Defense on 07 September 2017 shows an aerial view over the damage of Hurricane Irma in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, 06 September 2017. Hurrican Irma was declared the most powerful hurricane ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean, and left a path of destruction in the Caribbean as it approaches Florida. EPA-EFE/Gerben van Es/DUTCH DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE / HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
A man drives through rain and strong winds during the passage of hurricane Irma, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017. The US territory was first to declare a state of emergency las Monday, as the National Hurricane Center forecast that the storm would strike the Island Wednesday. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - SEPTEMBER 07: Dr. Steven Gayer walks away with freshly filled sand bags while preparing for approaching Hurricane Irma on September 6, 2016 in Miami Beach, Florida. Current tracks for Hurricane Irma shows that it could hit south Florida this weekend. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
People walk through damage on September 7, 2017, in a sand-covered street of Marigot, near the Bay of Nettle, on the island of Saint-Martin in the northeast Caribbean, after the passage of Hurricane Irma. France, the Netherlands and Britain on September 7 sent water, emergency rations and rescue teams to their stricken territories in the Caribbean hit by Hurricane Irma, which has killed at least 10 people. The worst-affected island so far is Saint Martin, which is divided between the Netherlands and France, where eight of the 10 confirmed deaths took place. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel CHAMOISEAULIONEL CHAMOISEAU/AFP/Getty Images
This handout picture released on the Twitter account of Anna Mazur on September 7, 2017 shows the damaged Casino Royale, on the Dutch Caribbean island of Sint Maarten, after the passage of Hurricane Irma. Powerful Hurricane Irma cut a swathe of deadly destruction as it roared through the Caribbean, claiming at least nine lives and turning the tropical islands of St Martin and Barbuda into mountains of rubble. / AFP PHOTO / TWITTER AND AFP PHOTO / Anna MAZUR / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - MANDATORY CREDIT "AFP PHOTO / TWITTER / ANNA MAZUR" - NO MARKETING NO ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS - DISTRIBUTED AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS ANNA MAZUR/AFP/Getty Images
Winds brought by Hurricane Irma blow palm trees in Samana, Dominican Republic, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Irma is flooding parts of the Dominican Republic as it roars by just off the northern coast of the island it shares with Haiti. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)
Damaged vehicles are seen following Hurricane Irma hitting Sint Maarten, the Dutch side of the Caribbean island of Saint Martin September 7, 2017 in this image taken from social media. Mandatory credit EZE EGWUATU/Handout MANDATORY CREDITvia REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT.NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
epa06190109 People look down on a flooded street from a roof in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, 07 September 2017. More than 5,500 people have been evacuated in the Dominican Republic because of the powerful category 5 hurricane Irma, which is causing rains and strong winds in the northeast of the country after leaving Puerto Rico. EPA-EFE/Luis Tavarez
epa06190108 A young man walks trough a flooded street in Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic, 07 September 2017. More than 5,500 people have been evacuated in the Dominican Republic because of the powerful category 5 hurricane Irma, which is causing rains and strong winds in the northeast of the country after leaving Puerto Rico. EPA-EFE/Luis Tavarez
Waves crash against a boat near the shore as Hurricane Irma passes over Samana, Dominican Republic, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Hurricane Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)
epa06190443 View of wreckage in the vicinity of the Santurce neighborhood in the aftermath of the hurricane Irma, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, 7 September 2017. Puerto Rico's Governor Ricardo Rossello, reported that three people have died in events related to the passage of Hurricane Irma, while the biggest incidents that have been recorded are fallen trees and electric poles. EPA-EFE/Thais Llorca
An employee works to remove a felled tree from a rooftop in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving at least 10 dead and thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. More than 1 million people in Puerto Rico are without power. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
Rocks are scattered on a road in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving at least 10 dead and thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. More than 1 million people in Puerto Rico are without power. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)
A woman pulls a travel case on a rock scattered road in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma in Fajardo, Puerto Rico, on September 7, 2017. One of the most powerful Atlantic storms on record, the rare Category 5 hurricane churned westward off the northern coast of Puerto Rico early Thursday on a potential collision course with south Florida, where at-risk areas were evacuated. / AFP PHOTO / Ricardo ARDUENGORICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP/Getty Images
A man looks out to the flooded street as Hurricane Irma moves off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado
Residents line up at Frost Park in Dania Beach, Fla., and fill up sandbags in preparation of Hurricane Irma in Dania Beach, Fla., on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees on a track Thursday that could lead to a catastrophic strike on Florida. (Mike Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)
A photo taken on September 6, 2017 shows debris in Marigot, near the Bay of Nettle, on the French Collectivity of Saint Martin, after the passage of Hurricane Irma. France, the Netherlands and Britain on September 7 sent water, emergency rations and rescue teams to their stricken territories in the Caribbean hit by Hurricane Irma, which has killed at least 10 people. The worst-affected island so far is Saint Martin, which is divided between the Netherlands and France, where eight of the 10 confirmed deaths took place. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel CHAMOISEAULIONEL CHAMOISEAU/AFP/Getty Images
A photo taken on September 6, 2017 shows a damaged building at the Hotel Mercure in Marigot, near the Bay of Nettle, on the French Collectivity of Saint Martin, after the passage of Hurricane Irma. France, the Netherlands and Britain on September 7 sent water, emergency rations and rescue teams to their stricken territories in the Caribbean hit by Hurricane Irma, which has killed at least 10 people. The worst-affected island so far is Saint Martin, which is divided between the Netherlands and France, where eight of the 10 confirmed deaths took place. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel CHAMOISEAULIONEL CHAMOISEAU/AFP/Getty Images
A photo taken on September 6, 2017 shows a car turned onto its side in Marigot, near the Bay of Nettle, on the French Collectivity of Saint Martin, after the passage of Hurricane Irma. France, the Netherlands and Britain on September 7 sent water, emergency rations and rescue teams to their stricken territories in the Caribbean hit by Hurricane Irma, which has killed at least 10 people. The worst-affected island so far is Saint Martin, which is divided between the Netherlands and France, where eight of the 10 confirmed deaths took place. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel CHAMOISEAULIONEL CHAMOISEAU/AFP/Getty Images
epa06190263 A handout photo made available by the Dutch Department of Defense on 07 September 2017 shows an aerial view of the damages of Hurricane Irma in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, 06 September 2017. Hurrican Irma was declared the most powerful hurricane ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean, and left a path of destruction in the Caribbean as it approaches Florida. EPA-EFE/GERBEN VAN ES / DUTCH DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE / HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
A photo taken on September 7, 2017 shows damage in Orient Bay on the French Carribean island of Saint-Martin, after the passage of Hurricane Irma. France, the Netherlands and Britain on September 7 rushed to provide water, emergency rations and rescue teams to territories in the Caribbean hit by Hurricane Irma, with aid efforts complicated by damage to local airports and harbours. The worst-affected island so far is Saint Martin, which is divided between the Netherlands and France, where French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe confirmed four people were killed and 50 more injured. / AFP PHOTO / Lionel CHAMOISEAULIONEL CHAMOISEAU/AFP/Getty Images
This Sept. 6, 2017 photo provided by the Dutch Defense Ministry shows a view of St. Maarten, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Irma cut a path of devastation across the northern Caribbean, leaving thousands homeless after destroying buildings and uprooting trees. Significant damage was reported on the island that is split between French and Dutch control. (Gerben Van Es/Dutch Defense Ministry via AP)
epa06191556 A handout photo made available by the Dutch Department of Defense on 08 September 2017 shows damage caused by Hurrican Irma in Philipsburg, Sint Maarten, on 07 September 2017. Dutch military and civilian emergency services arrived at the island territory to help after Hurricane Irma was declared the most powerful hurricane ever recorded over the Atlantic Ocean, and left a path of destruction on Sint Maarten and in the Caribbean as it approaches Florida. Sint Maarten is an autonomous country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on the Carbbean island of Saint Martin. EPA-EFE/GERBEN VAN ES/DUTCH DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE/HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
Lilimar Garcia loads sandbags in her car to prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Irma, Friday, Sept. 8, 2017, in Orlando, Fla. Lines of vehicles stretched for miles and many waited several hours to get the sandbags. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Sand is dumped along the dunes on Route A1A as protection ahead of Hurricane Irma in Flagler Beach, Fla., Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - SEPTEMBER 08: A message reading "You Don't Scare Us Irma" is written on plywood being used to cover the windows of a building as people prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Irma on September 8, 2017 in Miami Beach, Florida. Florida appears to be in the path of the Hurricane which may come ashore at category 4. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Hotel worker Luisa Perez, 27, takes her belongings to a relative's house prior to the arrival of the Hurricane Irma in Caibarien, Cuba September 8, 2017. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
epa06192699 A fuel pump is protectively wrapped in plastic ahead of the expected arrival of Hurricane Irma in Key Biscayne, Florida, USA, 08 September 2017. Miami Beach, the Florida Keys and other low-lying areas are under a mandatory evacuation order ahead of Irma. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER
PUNTA GORDA, FL - SEPTEMBER 08: Traffic on Interstate 75 while moving in both directions, was noticeably heavier in the northbound lanes as residents and visitors in Florida evacuate the area ahead of Hurricane Irma on September 08, 2017 in Punta Gorda, Florida. Florida appears to be in the path of the hurricane which may come ashore at category 4. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
Hundreds of people gather in an emergency shelter at the Miami-Dade County Fair Expo Center in Miami, Florida, September 8, 2017, ahead of Hurricane Irma. Florida Governor Rick Scott warned that all of the state's 20 million inhabitants should be prepared to evacuate as Hurricane Irma bears down for a direct hit on the southern US state. / AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEBSAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Aerial view of devastation following Hurricane Irma at Bitter End in Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands September 8, 2017, is seen in this still image taken from social media video. MANDATORY CREDIT Caribbean Buzz Helicopters/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
Aerial view of devastation following Hurricane Irma on Saba Rock, British Virgin Islands September 8, 2017, is seen in this still image taken from social media video. MANDATORY CREDIT Caribbean Buzz Helicopters/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
A man walks on a street covered in debris after hurricane Irma hurricane passed on the French island of Saint-Martin, near Marigot on September 8, 2017. Officials on the island of Guadeloupe, where French aid efforts are being coordinated, suspended boat crossings to the hardest-hit territories of St Martin and St Barts where 11 people have died. Two days after Hurricane Irma swept over the eastern Caribbean, killing at least 17 people and devastating thousands of homes, some islands braced for a second battering from Hurricane Jose this weekend. / AFP PHOTO / Martin BUREAUMARTIN BUREAU/AFP/Getty Images
KEY LARGO, FL - SEPTEMBER 08: Boats that can't be evacuated are tied off in canals to protect them from Hurricane Irma on September 8, 2017 in Key Largo, Florida. The entire Florida Keys are under a mandatory evacuation notice as Hurricane Irma approaches the low-lying chain of islands south of Miami. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)
Miami Beach, FL - SEPTEMBER 08: Mike Bazini works to put hurricane shutters on windows at Playwright Irish Pub before Hurricane Irma hits on Friday September 08, 2017 in Miami Beach, FL. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
Miami Beach, FL - SEPTEMBER 08: People are seen on the beach before Hurricane Irma hits on Friday September 08, 2017 in Miami Beach, FL. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
Photo Gallery: Irma is wielding the most powerful winds ever recorded for a storm in the Atlantic Ocean.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — 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 farther east.

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."

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.

Watch more!
The Hurricane Irma tore through the Cuban coastline on Sept. 9 and has turned Havana into one big swimming pool. (Reuters)

"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."

European governments came under fire as critics accused them of being slow to respond to crises in their Caribbean territories, where massive damage left thousands homeless as looting broke out in the streets.

On Sunday, the French government announced that President Emmanuel Macron would travel to St. Martin, an island split between France and the Netherlands, on Tuesday. The French have already deployed more than 1,000 personnel to the Caribbean region in an aid-and-relief effort.

The evacuation of U.S. citizens from the Dutch side resumed Sunday, according to State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert, after being suspended in anticipation of Hurricane Jose, which later veered off to the north. Priority is being given to those needing urgent medical care, she said.

Residents in the devastated British Virgin Islands used Facebook in frantic calls for help.

One user, Lanein Blanchette, echoed many others still looking for word from relatives and friends whom they had not heard from since Irma began belting the region last week.

"There is absolutely no news about East End on any of these pages," she wrote. "I've posted over ten times asking for assistance as to whether anyone has seen my uncle Kingston 'Iman' Eddy and not one person has replied. I am lost for words at this point. I honestly don't know what else to do."

At the same time, dramatic tales of escape began to emerge.

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.

Authorities in the devastated island nation of Antigua and Barbuda faced a historic effort ahead to rebuild. The island of Barbuda suffered damage to almost 100 percent of its structures.

"In Barbuda, where they evacuated everybody, now they have to figure out where to start, how to construct basic need services, how to figure out what to do with families that lost their homes," said Jan Gelfland of the International Federation of the Red Cross.

Rachelle Krygier in Caracas contributed to this report.

Read more:

Related: Hurricane Irma makes landfall in Florida Keys

Related: Hurricane Irma ravages Caribbean islands

Related: ‘When you look at the carnage, you ask how anybody at all survived’

Related: Today’s coverage from Post correspondents around the world

Related: Like Washington Post World on Facebook and stay updated on foreign news


Anthony Faiola is The Post’s South America/Caribbean bureau chief. Since joining the paper in 1994, he has also served as bureau chief in Berlin, London, Tokyo, Buenos Aires and New York, and covered global economics from Washington.

Post Recommends
Outbrain

You obviously love great journalism.

With special savings on our Basic Digital package, you’ll never miss a single story again.

Already a subscriber?

Secure & Encrypted