The headline of a NY Times article reads, “In the Virgin Islands, Hurricane Maria drowned what Irma didn’t destroy” and the story continues on to note that between the debt, the lack of funding, the unemployment rate being at twice the national average, what was once considered one of the Caribbean’s most ideal landscapes is now ravaged by two Hurricanes of immense force and an appetite for destruction only 14 days apart. The title of the article is very fitting and even more tragic.
The governor expects that the two hospitals on the most popular islands, St. Thomas and St. Croix, will have to be torn down and rebuilt. In St. Croix, one of the few working cell towers went down due to the fact that someone had stolen its generator. On the smallest and most remote island of St. John, beachfront hotels were reduced to rubble thanks to the wind and rain while a landslide blocked a segment of road in such a way that only cars could pass, but not a vehicle the size of an ambulance. Students cannot attend classes and Virgin Islanders wait for doctors, medicine, fuel, and manpower to help rebuild their power and communications grid.
The Washington Post remarks that Hurricane Maria is President Donald Trump’s Hurricane Katrina- costly, devastating, and long-term repairs required.
As of September 25th, Hurricane Maria has caused 27 deaths in Dominica, 5 deaths in the Dominican Republic, 2 deaths in Guadeloupe, 3 in Haiti, 24 in Puerto Rico and 1 in the Virgin Islands. Insured losses from the hurricane are estimated between $40 – 85 billion, mostly in Puerto Rico, making Maria’s cost comparable to that of previous Hurricanes Irma and Harvey due to the widespread flooding, damaged homes and buildings, as well as uprooted trees. Maria has been marked as the tenth-most intense Atlantic hurricane on record, the worst that’s struck Dominica in history and the worst in Puerto Rico since 1928.