Richard Branson calls for ‘Marshall Plan’ to help Caribbean recover

Britain, France, the Netherlands and the United States have ramped up relief efforts for their territories in the Caribbean after the passage of Hurricane Irma last week left devastation in its wake. Antigua, the larger of the two, was mostly spared by the storm.

Some 95 percent of the island’s buildings are believed to have been destroyed, leaving nearly all of the 1,600 inhabitants homeless.

Most casualties occurred mainly due to building collapses, the CNN reported. French President Emmanuel Macron was expected in the Caribbean on Tuesday.

Adding to the stress of lack of food and shelter were reports of widespread looting by armed gangs.

St. John resident Stephanie Stevens told NPR of a school pulled apart, its roof looking “like somebody took the individual sheets of metal and twisted it like a washcloth before they threw it everywhere all over the ground”. “Patients with life threatening injuries were evacuated to hospitals in Puerto Rico and St. Croix”. “This is no average hurricane”. Many had left town before the storm hit and all foreigners were urged to evacuate. On St. Croix are aircraft, troops – and residents such as Elizabeth Smith, who told NPR about the situation faced by the territory four days after the storm’s departure. The state of emergency makes it easier for security forces to more easily arrest suspected looters.

Authorities have photos and videos of suspects involved be working with the public to identify them, they said. That is Cuba’s worst hurricane death toll since 16 died in Hurricane Dennis in 2005.

Water and wind damaged the seaside U.S. Embassy, tossing around shipping containers that sit on the compound, smashing parts of its black perimeter fence, ripping exterior panels from the building and breaking windows and doors.

Charlotte Grayson, from London, whose father and two 11-year-old siblings live in the badly-hit island of Tortola, said they were “struggling” to obtain basic supplies.

With most of the islands’ tourist marinas obliterated, the main source of income has also been cut.

Strong winds and heavy rain also lashed the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the low-lying Turks and Caicos Islands Thursday into Friday.

Cayos Coco and Guillermo, the crown jewels of what is known as the King’s Gardens, with 16 hotels frequented by Canadian and European tourists, sustained serious damage, local authorities in the area said.

In Caibarien, a port city which suffered the wrath of Irma’s 150 miles per hour (250 kilometers per hour) winds, it seemed likely that it would be some time before any semblance of normalcy is restored.

Still, Cubans pride themselves on being prepared for disasters.

Waves as high as 20 feet (6 meters) continued to pound Havana, with the spray topping the lighthouse at the Morro fortress on the entrance to the bay, and Civil Defense Col. Luis Angel Macareno warned that the flooding would persist into Monday.

“I just spoke to Anaida, it is hard to believe she is getting ready to go through the same thing I just did”, she said.

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