Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in a century, tore its away across the U.S. Virgin Islands as a Category 5 storm on Sept. 6, mixing together a deadly combination of winds and rising water.
Government officials and local residents alike are reporting the damage as catastrophic, and saying it will be months before the islands are able to recover.
“The infrastructure is destroyed,” Dr. Libby Flowers, who is treating patients at her clinic on St. Thomas, told CNBC. “The roads are impassable, the power grid is completely gone, and there is a lot of looting and robbing.”
Flowers, who has lived and worked on the island for eight years as an emergency room doctor, said her family went through Hurricane Hugo in 1987.
“Irma was by far the worst,” Flowers said.
Organizations from the U.S. military to cruise lines are rallying support, evacuating those who need shelter and sending in teams to clean up debris.
General Deborah Howell, leader of the Virgin Islands National Guard, told NPR on Monday “the structures are just not there.”
“It’s just rubble in most of the areas … it almost looks like a bomb had exploded in the area,” Howell said, before adding that rebuilding the islands will start “from scratch.”
With dozens of excursions canceled, cruise line companies are using ships in the area to evacuate those stranded on the islands and provide aid.
“‘Majesty of the Seas’ was in…