HAVANA (AP) — With ports mended and weather cleared, officials sent in more aid and arranged stepped-up evacuations Monday in remote Caribbean islands devastated and cut off by Hurricane Irma.

Many in the chain of Leeward Islands known as the playground for the rich and famous have criticized governments for failing to respond quickly to the disaster caused by the Category 5 hurricane.

The storm stripped the islands’ formerly lush green hills to a brown stubble and flattened buildings, then swamped much of Cuba’s coastline, including Havana’s iconic Malecon seawall.

At least 24 people died in Anguilla, Barbuda, the French-Dutch island of St. Martin, St. Barts, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. Among them was a 2-year-old boy swept away when his home filled with water.

Residents have reported shortages of food, water and medicine, and many have complained of looting.

The U.S. government said it was sending a flight Monday to evacuate its citizens from one of the hardest hit islands, St. Martin. Evacuees were warned to expect long lines and no running water at the airport.

A Royal Caribbean Cruise Line ship was expected to dock near St. Martin to help in the aftermath, and a boat was bringing a 5-ton crane capable of unloading large shipping containers filled with aid. A French military ship was scheduled to arrive Tuesday with materials to build temporary housing.

Some 70 percent of the beds at the main hospital in the French portion of St. Martin were severely damaged, and more than 100 people in need of urgent medical care have been evacuated. Eight of the territory’s 11 pharmacies were destroyed, and Guadeloupe was sending medication.

On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron was scheduled to arrive in St. Martin to bring aid and fend off criticism that he didn’t do enough to respond to the storm’s wrath.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said the “whole government is mobilized” to help and the pillaging that hit the island in the immediate aftermath of the storm had stopped.

Macron promised to go to the region as soon as weather conditions allowed. Soon after Irma left 10 dead on St. Martin, Category 4 Hurricane Jose threatened the area, halting evacuations for hours before heading out to sea and causing little additional damage.

Also hit hard was Cuba, where central Havana neighborhoods along the coast between the Almendares River and the harbor suffered the brunt of the flooding. Seawater penetrated as much as a half-kilometer (one-third of a mile) inland in places.

There were no reported fatalities in Cuba, and government officials credited their disaster preparedness and evacuation of more than 1 million people from flood-prone areas.

Hector Pulpito recounted a harrowing night at his job as night custodian of a parking lot that flooded five blocks from the sea in Havana’s Vedado neighborhood.

“This was the worst of the storms I have been through, and the sea rose much higher,” Pulpito said. “The trees were shaking. Metal roofs went flying.”

Cuban state television reported severe damage to hotels on the northern keys off Ciego de Avila and Camaguey provinces.

The Communist Party newspaper Granma reported that the Jardines del Rey airport serving the northern keys was destroyed and posted photos to Twitter showing the shattered terminal hall littered with debris.

___

Associated Press writer Andrea Rodriguez reported this story in Havana and AP writer Desmond Boylan reported from Caibarien, Cuba. AP writer Danica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico, contributed to this report.

PHOTO: AP

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6 thoughts on “Days After Storm, Ravaged Caribbean Finally Gets Some Help

  1. specialt757 on said:

    Natural disasters have no conscious of whose in it’s path. Any and every one can be affected at any time. I wish there were less idiots in our world, it would be a much better place to live.

  2. lilywhiteteacher on said:

    Young man, when commenting on a site like this, please use the correct punctuation. You stated that you’re smart, but I beg to differ.

  3. Jeremy damin on said:

    All you blacks with your bullshitting need to be grateful your in america where most white men do act like pussies and don’t back there friends but your all so fucking naive, go live in Africa with a black govt.you will become grateful for america real quick they dont have food stamps and section 8 in Africa your on your own and you best have a machete so u dont get your ass cut up if you dont believe me ask your brothers in Liberia if there glad there ancestors went bac k so be grateful the whites in america our kind hearted and tolerate you because if whites acted like most African warlord s shits going to get rough for you real rough you ungrateful fucks who use white medicine, white technology, white tax dollars and a white govt. That keeps you cozy in section 8 there’s always liberia I do agree though you can’t trust white friends and I’m white, I’m smart enough to know I want my black friend Justin or my Mexican friend Javier if I’m going into battle

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