Hurricane Lenny pounded the Dutch, French and British islands of the northeastern Caribbean today and left a trail of death and debris in its wake.
The late-season storm has zigzagged along a rare west-to-east course, killing at least seven people from Colombia to Dutch St. Maarten in the northeastern Caribbean, where it has stalled.
Lenny was "wreaking havoc on St. Maarten and adjacent islands," the U.S. National Weather Service said late today. St. Maarten Lt. Gov. Dennis Richardson said his island was "in a very dangerous situation."
Lenny whipped up powerful waves that pounded the island's main port, said a reporter at GVBC Radio. He said the storm was "flinging shipping containers about like toys."
Lenny's winds had reached 150 mph on Wednesday when it battered the U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix for 12 hours, stripping roofs, flooding buildings and roads, tearing away a pier and strewing boats like debris across the beach at the yacht club, some piled on top of each other.
President Clinton declared a state of emergency in the U.S. Virgin Islands today, allowing residents to apply for federal financial aid.
With its winds still a frightening 135 mph, it moved to St. Martin, the island shared by French St. Martin and Dutch St. Maarten, and continued its pounding.
By tonight, its winds dropped to 110 mph as the eye of the hurricane passed over St. Maarten and made a hit on Anguilla, a British territory.
Forecasters expected up to 15 inches of rain on islands already saturated from more than a week of downpours.
The hurricane was unlikely to strike the mainland United States but could bring heavy surf capable of eroding beaches in Florida.