Life&Culture

Hurricane Irma hit people and property hard in the Caribbean

Hurricane Irma hit people and property hard in the Caribbean

French president Emmanuel Macron will visit the hurricane-hit French Caribbean island of Saint Martin on Tuesday, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said on Sunday.

Hurricane Irma left nine dead and flattened many homes on St. Martin and nearby St. Barts.

He promised to rebuild St. Martin as a "model island" that would be a "showcase of French excellence" and to take steps to diversify its economy so it's less reliant on tourism.

Jose, bearing winds up to 145 miles per hour, is expected to pass about 60 miles north of Saint Martin, which is divided between France and The Netherlands. Billionaire investor Richard Branson, who stayed at his home on private Necker Island during the storm, said other houses on the island have disappeared and the area is "completely and utterly devastated".

The French President plans to visit that beleaguered island later in the day.

Four people died on Anguilla, up from one reported previously, Duncan said, while the death toll on the British Virgin Islands rose by one to five.

United Kingdom billionaire Richard Branson, who rode out the storm in his home in the British Virgin Islands is also rallying relief.

Sharon Flax-Brutus, director of tourism for the British Virgin Islands (BVI), said the damage was hard to assess because communications were down, but that "many homes are without roofs, or have been diminished to merely foundations".

"What we have seen today are people determined to rebuild and return to a normal life", Macron said at a news conference. "They are impatient for answers and some are very, very angry".

A centre to administer requests by residents seeking financial help is due to be established by Monday, he said.

"The UK government is doing everything it possibly can to help those affected by the hurricane", he said.

"It is clear this place has been through an absolutely hellish experience", Johnson said.

Briton Claudia Knight said her partner, Leo Whitting, 38, was stranded on Tortola, one of the British Virgin Islands.

Widespread flooding swept across the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander, who arrived on Monday, was amazed at the level of destruction he saw in St Maarten.

Macron said that water and electricity would be back soon in France's Caribbean territories, and that he hoped schools would be reopened next week. They say it's on its way.

There were reports of looting and civil disorder in St Martin following the passage of Irma, which killed 11 on the island, including a Trinidadian woman, and destroyed a lot of buildings.


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