September 12, 2017
On the islands of St. John and St. Thomas, residents say they are stranded with scarce food, fuel, or security, and in desperate need of help.
Trekking miles over downed power lines into town to congregate around spotty cell service hot spots, like a pizza restaurant and roofless hospital, people in the US Virgin Islands are desperately trying to get calls and texts out to friends and family members with one overwhelming message: “We need help. Things are really bad.”
“If I had realized how horrific it was going to be, I would have spent all my money to get off this island,” said Scott Borchers, who weathered Hurricane Irma on St. Thomas and secured a seat on a cruise ship evacuating to people to Florida Monday night.
“My parents that live in Naples hunkered down for it too,” he said. “My dad said it was terrifying. I said, ‘You have no idea. It was ten times worse here, I promise you.’”
As Hurricane Irma tore through a string of Caribbean islands last week, pummeling the popular tourist spots with up to 185-mile winds, the US Virgin Islands took a severe hit from the storm. Homes, hospitals, and government buildings in the US territory were pummeled to rubble. Splintered cell phone towers and trees are still blocking roads, while crushed boats bob broken in harbors, trapping hundreds of residents attempting to relocate. Four people died during the storm, which was responsible for at least 30 other deaths across the region, and the death toll is expected to rise as rescue teams continue to wade through the rubble.
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