A report by Leyla Santiago for CNN.
So dire is the threat to the island that any of the 1,800 residents who didn’t already flee before Irma are being evacuated by a flotilla of ferries being sent from Antigua, the other major island in the nation of Antigua and Barbuda.
Hurricane Irma hit Barbuda as a Category 5 hurricane on Wednesday, killing one person and damaging 95% of the island’s buildings, said Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda. He estimated the damage from Irma will cost $100 million to fix.
CNN drone footage from Barbuda on Friday showed nearly every house and building ripped open or torn apart. Trees were stripped or toppled. Windows, roofs and even walls were gone. Some buildings were empty, their contents blown away.
“Total destruction, honestly,” said one 45-year-old man, a Barbuda resident, after evacuating to Antigua. “It’s like someone threw an explosive.”
He told CNN the island “is like a shell” with widespread destruction.
“The whole island — very few houses that didn’t get really damaged. Very few houses liveable.”
CNN’s Leyla Santiago toured Barbuda on Friday and described “pure destruction.”
“It is desolate. People are overwhelmed,” she said. “The priority now is not so much to save what Irma left behind, (it’s) more so to save lives. They’re trying to get people out.”