Irma's death toll rises to 4 in St. Maarten

Posted September 14, 2017

French President Emmanuel Macron has scheduled a visit to the region, one day after about 400 people reportedly arrived in France and the Netherlands from Hurricane Irma-ravaged territories.

Arriving in Eindhoven, 30-year-old Clara James said the Dutch side of St Martin "literally looks like a war zone".

The Dutch government was blamed for delayed flights of people who were stranded.

Authorities have begun evacuating locals and tourists from the hardest-hit French, British and Dutch territories in the Caribbean where many have complained about a breakdown in law and order and widespread shortages of food, water and electricity.

Macron announced Wednesday a "national reconstruction plan" for its overseas territories.

She said they contacted the embassy, who gave them a list of hotels that still had power. "Only social media and solidarity worked", she said. "They had to set up militias and take turns defending themselves (against looters)", she added.

Macron's government has defended its actions and has sent more than 1,000 troops, police and emergency workers to St. Martin and St. Barts in recent days.

Elsewhere in the country, Irma struck the archipelago north of Cuba's Camaguey and Ciego de Avila provinces with gusts so strong they destroyed an instrument used to measure wind, Cuba's meteorological agency reported. "I can't describe it".

Marlin says many nations and people have offered help to St. Maarten, but weather conditions will determine how this can be coordinated.

Meanwhile, on St Maarten, the Dutch side of the island, 1,200 people were evacuated so far and there have also been reports of looting and robberies.

Setting an example of neighborliness and compassion, one owner of a diving supply business located on Virgin Gorda (VG) in the British Virgin Islands-where the United Kingdom government faced criticism for its slow response to the storm and its failure to set up contingency plans before Irma hit-asked those trapped on the island to help those in need and urged anyone who might be in need to help themselves to items that might be found at the shop.

To the east, in the Leeward Islands known as the playground for the rich and famous, governments came under criticism for failing to respond quickly to the hurricane, which flattened many towns and turned lush, green hills to brown stubble.

Blondel Cluff, Anguilla's representative to the U.S. and the European Union, told CNN that 15,000 people were now stranded on the island and dependent on humanitarian aid for their basic needs.

The UK government has faced similar complaints following the death of at least nine people people on British territories. The government also earmarked £32m for aid.

"St Martin will be reborn, I promise", Macron told reporters in Pointe-a-Pitre, on the French island of Guadeloupe. An estimated 90 percent of structures on the island of Barbuda were damaged or destroyed. People are being killed! Seventeen communities had to be abandoned following flooded roads and bridges.

The islands' woes increased as the airport on St. Barts was closed, and those in Anguilla and St. Martin were open only to the military, rescue crews and aid organizations.