It’s the tiniest of the US Virgin Islands – and one of the hardest hit by Hurricane Irma.
The once vibrant St. John, famous for its rolling green hills and serene white-sand beaches, is now a tattered wasteland after the Category 5 hurricane tore through the 20-square-mile island a week ago.
Multimillion-dollar homes have been reduced to piles of twisted rubble, trees were stripped of their lush foliage and boats and cars were strewn across the island like broken toys.
Irma is responsible for at least 38 deaths in the Caribbean.
Photos of the heartbreaking wreckage were posted by the Washington Post.
Now, the 5,000 residents who call the small island home are trying to pick up the pieces.
“We’re totally devastated,” Tommy Young, who’s lived in Coral Bay since 2007, told CBS News. “We’ve lost homes, we’ve lost roofs. We’ve lost vehicles.”
He added, “There are people like myself who have lost everything The clothes on my back are from others.”
Six days after the storm, St. John was designated an active disaster zone, with National Guard now patrolling the streets and FEMA shuttling in aid, including food, water, blue tarps and infant and toddler kits.
Joe Decourcy, the owner of Joe’s Rum Hut on the island, said locals were fuming that it took so long for help to reach them.
He said looting became rampant in the days following the hurricane – including at his own beachfront establishment in Cruz Bay.
“No structure, no police presence, no National Guard,” he told the Washington Post. “It got really tense, to the point where business owners were asking, ‘How do I get firearms? How do I get off the island? Are they coming for us?’ I mean, this is supposed to be U.S. territory. And yet people were just running around breaking into residences and stores.”
Kenneth Mapp, the governor of the Virgin Islands, said it could take “months, months, months” until power is restored on St. John. But he denied that any looting occurred.
“I am sympathetic, and I understand the people’s fear and desire for more resources on the island as quickly as possible,” Mapp said. “But there was no looting, no abuse of folks.”
Mapp also noted that it was nearly impossible for the National Guard to reach the island due to overturned boats in the harbor.
Irma also ripped…