Puerto Rico opens arms to refugees from Irma’s Caribbean chaos

An RAF Puma helicopter of 33 Squadron on the beach of Cane Garden Bay to deliver aid to residents in Tortola, the largest of the British Virgin Islands Photo Joel Rouse/PA Wire

 

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico,  (Reuters) – Despite economic problems and its own damage from Hurricane Irma, Puerto Rico is taking thousands of refugees from the U.S. Virgin Islands whose homes were destroyed by the storm, with a cruise ship carrying up to 2,000 more evacuees due on Thursday.

Visibly shaken residents from St. Martin and the Virgin Islands arrived yesterday in U.S. military aircraft, bringing tales of terrifying winds and a breakdown in law and order.

“The people of Puerto Rico – what big hearts you guys got because our (local) government did nothing – nothing,” said William Vonfabrice, 61, from St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. “People coming at us with machetes, offering bullets and saying ‘There is more for you,’ breaking into houses, hurting people.”

Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas cruise ship was expected to depart the badly damaged U.S. Virgin Island of St. Thomas early on Thursday, bound for San Juan, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands commissioner of tourism said.

Irma skirted Puerto Rico last week, knocking out power to 70 percent of the island, damaging buildings and killing at least three people, but the destruction was not nearly as bad as elsewhere in the Caribbean.

The storm’s 185 mph (297 kmh) winds struck hardest on a string of tiny Caribbean islands that are territories of Britain, France, the Netherlands and the United States. Homes, hotels, hospitals, marinas and airports were badly damaged and the scale of the destruction seemed to catch the wealthy nations off guard.

The nations all have launched military relief operations but locals and tourists have criticized the response for being too slow and not reaching everybody evenly.

Visiting the French Caribbean on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron promised to quickly rebuild St. Martin, a French territory shared with the Netherlands. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson met with security officials in Anguilla.

Dutch King Willem-Alexander said the destruction he saw in St. Martin was on a scale he “had never seen before.”

‘THE END OF SINT MAARTEN’

Charles Morrison, 89, an evacuee from the Dutch part of the island, Sint Maarten, said one person was killed when the hotel he was staying in was flooded and partially destroyed. Morrison then took shelter in friend’s more secure place.

“The fact is, that’s the end of Sint Maarten,” he said as was pushed through San Juan’s Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in a wheelchair.

Puerto Rico has $70 billion in debt, a poverty rate above 46 percent, and near-insolvent pension and health systems, a fact not lost on the arrivals.

“God bless Puerto Rico and the hearts because you guys are struggling. And from the hardest struggle, that’s where the real people come out,” Vonfabrice said, thanking Puerto Rico for sending food water and ships to the Virgin Islands.

Other countries in the region also helped. St. Lucia has agreed to house prisoners from Turks and Caicos and the British Virgin Islands, after the storm damaged the prisons in those British territories.

The Cayman Islands has sent police to help reinforce security in the British Virgin Islands after more than 100 prisoners escaped when the storm breached the prison.

Mexico’s foreign minister instructed his diplomats in the Caribbean to offer unspecified help to Puerto Rico and Cuba.

Mexico is itself reeling from an earthquake and a hurricane and this week canceled an offer of aid to the United States after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.

 

 

 

Comments  

[Video] Maurice Arjoon’s lawyer in bid to levy on NBS

  The legal team for former New Building Society (NBS) manager, Maurice Arjoon, who was wrongfully dismissed, have levied on the bank’s assets in a bid to recoup the $59,033,000 pension owed to him by the financial institution.

Mahaicony farmer who drove car without permission dies in crash

An alleged inebriated farmer of 54 Strath Campbell Village, Mahaicony, ECD, died at about 3 pm  yesterday at Chance Village, Mahaicony, after a vehicle he was reportedly not given permission to drive, crashed into a utility pole.

Quarter-final curse fells Nadal again as Cilic advances

MELBOURNE,  (Reuters) – Rafa Nadal’s Australian Open quarter-final curse struck again on Tuesday, an injury forcing the top seed to retire in the fifth set against Croatia’s Marin Cilic.

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.

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

×