Caribbean residents fend off looters after Irma; Branson urges ‘Marshall Plan’

Cuba says Hurricane Irma killed at least 10 people. A man gestures to his dog on a flooded street, after the passing of Hurricane Irma in Havana (Reuters photo)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico, (Reuters) – Food shortages and looting on Caribbean islands hammered by Hurricane Irma sparked growing criticism of the government response, prompting British billionaire Richard Branson to call for a “Marshall plan” to help the region recover.

Irma ripped through the tiny easterly Leeward Islands last week as one of the Atlantic’s strongest ever storms, killing two dozen people, uprooting trees, tearing down power cables and severely damaging the homes of poor locals and the global jet-set alike.

Across the whole of the Caribbean, Irma killed nearly 40 people and devastated basic services, tearing cracks in law and order. Looting erupted on some Caribbean islands where residents and tourists were stranded with little food, shelter or drinking water.

Jenn Manes, who writes a blog on U.S. Virgin Island St. John, detailed a list of robberies and break-ins on the island after Irma struck, saying she had to install a bar on the inside of her door to keep out would-be burglars. (http://newsofstjohn.com/)

“This is not St. John anymore. I’m not sure what it is. What I do know is that I am scared. My friends are scared. And we don’t know what to do,” she wrote.

Waves crash against the lighthouse after the passing of Hurricane Irma, in Havana, Cuba, September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

Despite sending reinforcements and ships to deliver help, France, Britain and the Netherlands have been criticized for not doing enough for the islands that they oversee.

Britain’s Defence Minister Michael Fallon at the weekend said his government’s effort was “as good as anybody else’s.”

The Dutch government on Sunday described the situation as “fragile” on its half of the island of St. Martin, where an undisclosed number of arrests of looters were made after Irma damaged or destroyed 70 percent of the local housing stock.

Alex Martinez, a 31-year-old American trapped on the Dutch part of St. Martin by Irma, said looters tried to raid his near-deserted hotel before he and others chased them off. “We had to fend for ourselves,” he told Reuters.

Buildings damaged by hurricane Irma are seen from the air on the British Virgin Islands, September 10, 2017. Picture taken September 10, 2017. Cpl Timothy Jones Ministry of Defense Handout via REUTERS
Cuba says Hurricane Irma killed at least 10 people. A man gestures to his dog on a flooded street, after the passing of Hurricane Irma in Havana (Reuters photo)
People walk in a flooded area after Hurricane Irma caused flooding and a blackout, in Havana, Cuba September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini
Waves crash against the lighthouse after the passing of Hurricane Irma, in Havana, Cuba, September 10, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer
Hurricane Irma left a path of destruction on Saint-Martin Credit: Gerben van Es/DUTCH DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE/ANP

Struggling to get answers about loved-ones, many people resorted to sharing information and making pleas on a Facebook page set up to help people on St. Martin.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk yesteday visited St. Martin, reviewing the damage done to the battered island with local leaders. French President Emmanuel Macron was expected in the Caribbean on Tuesday.

Following the passage of Hurricane Luis in 1995, which killed at least 15 people in the Caribbean and damaged 60 percent of housing on St. Martin, the U.S. National Hurricane Center estimated the cost to St. Martin alone at $1.8 billion.

Businessman Branson, who has lived in the British Virgin Islands for the past 11 years, said in a blog post on www.virgin.com that the region needed a “Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan” to rebuild and revitalize its economy – a reference to the multibillion-dollar U.S. program that helped rebuild Western Europe after the devastation of World War Two. (http://bit.ly/2w3a6Jf)

“We must get more help to the islands to rebuild homes and infrastructure and restore power, clean water and food supplies,” said Branson, head of the Virgin Group conglomerate.

He said he was writing from Puerto Rico, where he was mobilizing aid efforts, and that he would be returning to the Virgin Islands soon for recovery work.

Branson said the British government had a “massive role to play” in rebuilding its territories, including the British Virgin Islands, an offshore financial center.

The premier of the British Virgin Islands, Orlando Smith, also appealed for urgent aid from Britain, saying the situation was critical and calling for a comprehensive package. The plan should include the possibility of more extreme weather “as the effects of climate change continue to grow,” he said.

Still, on Monday, blogger Manes on U.S. Virgin Island St. John reported the situation was improving, saying police were patrolling the streets and that a Navy ship had arrived to help.

Comments  

Hundreds more sugar workers to be laid off

Several hundred more sugar workers are expected to be laid off from the Skeldon, Rose Hall, and East Demerara estates by next month and the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) yesterday urged that the decision be reviewed.

Order signed for setting up of telecoms agency

The commencement order establishing the Telecommunications Agency was signed last Friday, in anticipation of the liberalisation of the telecoms sector, Minister of Public Tele-communications Cathy Hughes announced yesterday.

Soesdyke woman gets 4 years, $14M fine over cocaine in ceiling

Nickela Craig-Singh, the woman who was arrested last Friday after the Customs Anti-Narcotic Unit (CANU) found over 10 pounds of cocaine in the ceiling of her Soesdyke home, was yesterday sentenced to four years in prison and fined over $14 million after pleading guilty to possession of the drug.

Public Information Director regrets Facebook criticism of Indian descent conference

Almost two weeks after he made a Facebook post in which he questioned whether the Indian High Commission was interfering in Guyana’s internal affairs, Director of Public Information Imran Khan yesterday said that he regretted the “furore” his post created and admitted that it should have benefitted from “greater elegance or not have been made.” After public reprimand and criticisms coming from even within the government, Khan, who initially staunchly maintained that he voiced his concerns in his private capacity as a citizen, said in a recent post on the issue that he now appreciates how persons may have interpreted his views as being some way reflective of the office he holds.

Mother says beheading victim is Port Kaituma miner

A young man seen in a recent viral video being brutally murdered in neighbouring Venezuela has been identified as a Port Kaituma miner.

By ,

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built stabroeknews.com using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now

×