Hurricane Irma: The giant storm's devastation island by island

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Superstorm Hurricane Irma has ripped through the Caribbean in a six day rampage which has left utter devastation in its wake.

As rescuers arrive on the islands, the giant storm is continuing along its path to the US where 5.6 million people in Florida have been told to flee.

The hurricane – which was at one point the most powerful storm ever in the Atlantic – has now been downgraded to a category four storm and is due to reach Florida on Sunday. At least 21 people are now confirmed dead. 

This is the destruction Irma has already been caused, island by island:

Antigua and Barbuda

The islands, which is home to some 1,400 people, was devastated in the storm. 

They are forecast to be battered again by Hurricane Jose, a category four storm following a similar path to Irma.

A man surveys the wreckage on his property in St John’s, Antigua, in the Caribbean. (AP)

But few structures have been left standing to provide shelter to those who had survived Irma, and the government is now evacuating residents in fishing boats and with the help of other private vessels. Islanders clutching salvaged possessions were lined up at wharves and the airport.

A two-year-old died after being swept away when the storm ripped the roof off the family’s house. 

St Martin

Nine people are confirmed dead in French St Martin and St Barts, authorities said. 

A flooded street on the French overseas island of Saint Martin (AFP/Getty Images)

Two others died on Dutch Sint Maarten, which shares an island with St Martin. 

Across the island homes were splintered, schools were destroyed and authorities reported gunfire amid looting of televisions as well as food and water. 

A man walks on a street covered in debris after hurricane Irma hurricane hit Saint-Martin, near Marigot. (AFP/Getty Images)

Sint Maarten Prime Minister William Marlin said the government anticipates a serious housing shortage and is already fretting over a lost tourist season. 

“We foresee a loss of the tourist season because of the damage that was done to hotel properties, the negative publicity that one would have that it’s better to go somewhere else because it’s destroyed – so that will have a serious impact on our economy,” he said in an interview with the Dutch military. 

St Barts

Irma ripped off roofs and knocked out electricity to the French island of St Barts. Video footage of the storm’s aftermath showed cars and boats strewn about the island. 

French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said most of the schools were destroyed on St Barts and St Martin and “we’ll need to rebuild both islands.” 

Barbados

A 16-year-old junior professional surfer in Barbados was killed while surfing large swells generated by Hurricane Irma. 

Zander Venezia was surfing on the island’s east coast when he drowned as the storm churned several hundred miles away, according to family friend and surfing instructor Alan Burke. 

Anguilla

One death was confirmed on the British territory of Anguilla, which suffered widespread damage to its electricity infrastructure, water supply, and government buildings. 

A man looks at a car turned upside down in Anguilla. (AP)

Irma inflicted “severe and in places critical” damage to the island, the UK government said. 

British crews arrived to help with recovery and by late on Thursday the airport runway had been cleared of debris.

British Virgin Islands

Four people were reported dead in the British territory, according to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. 

The storm caused major damage to the largest and most populated island of Tortola, where video of the hillside capital, Road Town, showed the scattered wreckage of buildings and piles of debris.

The emergency agency said there was a critical need for security amid instances of looting. 

Billionaire entrepreneur Richard Branson, who rode out the storm at his home on private Necker Island, said entire houses disappeared and the area was “completely and utterly devastated.” 

Richard Branson said his whole staff slept together in two rooms as the hurricane approached (Virgin.com)

US Virgin Islands

Four deaths were reported in the US Virgin Islands and officials on St Thomas said they expected to find more bodies as crews struggled to reopen roads and restore power. 

The hospital on St Thomas was destroyed and the harbour was in ruins, along with hundreds of homes and dozens of businesses. 

Devastation in the US Virgin Islands. (AP)

Adrien Reinhardt said houses in her neighbourhood were levelled, and many people had a week’s worth of food and water. 

“Let people know: We need food, we need supplies to survive,” she said. 

Puerto Rico

About a million people were without power in Puerto Rico, which was spared a direct hit as Irma passed to the north. Nearly half the territory’s hospitals were relying on generators. No injuries were reported. 

Turks and Caicos Islands

The hurricane caused extensive flooding in the Turks and Caicos Islands, with the water reaching above the waist in some areas. 

Homes were damaged or destroyed across the most populated island, Providenciales, and a community known as Blue Hill on the northwestern side is “gone”, the Minister of Instructure Gold Ray Ewing said. 

Cuba

Cuba is the latest country to suffer from the effects of Irma after the storm barrelled along its north coast on Friday night.

Thousands of tourists were evacuated from low-lying keys off the coast dotted with all-inclusive resorts ahead of the storm’s approach.

All residents of the area were under mandatory evacuation orders from the Cuban government, which was moving tens of thousands of people from vulnerable coastline. 


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