Aerial views filmed by British broadcaster Sky news on Monday revealed the extent of damage on the eastern Caribbean Island of Barbuda, after Hurricane Irma swept through it, leaving a trail of destruction. (Sept. 12)
Barbuda has been left completely devastated by Hurricane Irma. An estimated 95% of Barbuda’s structures are damaged, and the entire island of around 1,800 people has been evacuated.
“The damage is complete,” says Ambassador Ronald Sanders, who has served as Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the U.S. since 2015. “For the first time in 300 years, 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.”
According to Sanders, Irma was “the most ferocious, cruel and merciless storm” in the island’s history. The hurricane was 378 miles wide when it descended on Barbuda, which is just 62 square miles.
“This was a huge monster,” he says. “The island and the people on the island had absolutely no chance.”
Evacuees from Barbuda were sent to Antigua, which did not suffer the same level of damage from Irma.
“We’ve had most of the people we’ve brought over to Antigua in shelters,” says Sanders. “We’ve tried to make living accommodations as good as humanly possible in these circumstances. Fortunately, we had planned ahead for this hurricane, and we had ordered supplies in from Miami and the United States before the hurricane hit.”
Though Barbudan evacuees are safe, Sanders says the situation is not ideal — people are living in cramped quarters in government facilities and nursing homes, including some 500 school-aged children. Now that school is back in session, Antigua must find room for these students.
“The situation is unacceptable, and it’s costly,” he says. “We’re going to have to keep this going for sometime because Barbuda’s not going to be rebuilt in a hurry, and when we do rebuild it, we’re going to have to rebuild to massive hurricane standards. This is…