Barbuda’s beach was like a ‘Caribbean version of Dunkirk,’ one rescuer said

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A report by Joshua Partlow for the Washington Post.

When Craig Ryan, a 29-year-old tourism entrepreneur who lives in Antigua, reached the devastated island of Barbuda by boat on Thursday morning, he said the scene of residents flocked onto the beach waiting for rescue struck him as a “Caribbean version of Dunkirk.”

“It’s such a level of devastation that you can’t even see structures standing,” he said.

Ryan’s family business, Tropical Adventures Antigua, dispatched a 75-foot motorboat to make the 1.5-hour passage from Antigua to Barbuda to ferry people off the island before another potential disaster, Hurricane Jose, takes aim at the tiny island. Phone and Internet communications are down on the island, Ryan said, and some residents are stuck in isolated areas blocked by impassable roads.

“We really are in a rush against time,” he said by telephone as he loaded up water and other supplies at a dock in Antigua before another trip to Barbuda.

Ryan, who is helping the evacuation along with police and Michael Freeland, a senator from Antigua and Barbuda, said he was able to load about 100 people, women and children first, onto his boat the first trip. He said he hoped other private boat owners join the rescue effort to so that the roughly 1,600 people could leave the island before the expected landfall of Hurricane Jose on Saturday.

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