“For the first time in 300 years,” he said, “there’s not a single living person on the island of Barbuda — a civilization that has existed on that island for over 300 years has now been extinguished.”
A local broadcaster in Barbuda summarized the situation thus: The island’s history will now be described in two epochs. Before Irma and after Irma.
Reconstruction could cost up to $300 million, Sanders has estimated.
The ambassador says he and other local officials are working with the U.S. Congress and the Organization of American States to ensure there’s aid, financial and others, so people can begin to repair their homes, their businesses and return to everyday life.
But that’s still a long way off, officials say.
In an interview with local media on Wednesday, Gaston Browne, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said the devastated island is infested with mosquitoes and water flies.
Pets and livestock also have been left to fend for themselves on the wind-swept island.
The dogs will look for their next meal among the chicken, pigs, horses and goats, Karen Corbin, president of the Antigua and Barbuda Humane Society, told TIME.
“One of our recommendations is for the dogs to be removed from the island for the health and safety of the other animals,” she said.
Antigua fared far better during the storm, and fortunately, Sanders said, the government had supplies brought in from the U.S. mainland before Irma arrived.
But most of those rescued and brought to the neighboring island are living in shelters, nursing homes and government buildings, Sanders told the Takeaway. And nearly one-third of the evacuees are children who need to be accommodated in local schools.
It’s not ideal for anyone, he added.
And there’s growing concern the rest of world will forget about Barbuda, Sanders told Gray D.C.
“Next week,” Sanders said, “if some other thing happens, this can be yesterday’s news.”