Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful storms in history, ravaged sections of the British Virgin Islands as it ripped across the island chain late Wednesday.
Images have emerged of homes that were flattened and government offices that were destroyed during Irma’s passage.
According to Jermaine Smith, a Jamaican living here, the only thing he managed to save was his passport.
“Everything mash up, everything, nothing saved,” Smith said in a video being circulated on social media.
Smith alluded to the loss of lives, and the government has confirmed one fatality.
“You have people in buildings die and nobody can get to them. You have cars mashed up; all the houses have been ripped to pieces. Only thing we could have saved is our passport and our lives.”
Meanwhile, in the neighbouring US Virgin Islands, it is reported that the hurricane crippled the only hospital on the island of St Thomas.
“St Thomas and St John are pretty devastated,” said Stacey Plaskett, the Virgin Islands’ delegate to Congress in an interview with USA Today.
She said Irma’s powerful winds ripped off the roof of the Roy Schneider Medical Centre in St Thomas forcing the authorities to transfer patients by helicopter to the island of St Croix.
She also said that the 911 emergency system was down and while most of the island’s structures met building standards for hurricanes, they could not withstand the strength of the storm.
“The storm is devastating to our economy. Our hotels have been damaged . . . . Getting those back up and running in a position where people will want to come and be tourists will take some time,” Plaskett said.
On Thursday afternoon, US president Donald Trump approved a disaster declaration for the territory.
Earlier in the day the European Union said it was in the process of mobilizing its emergency response instruments to assist countries affected or threatened by Irma.
Help will also come from the United Kingdom to several of its overseas territories ravaged by hurricane, including the BVI.