Hurricane Irma tore into the Caribbean Islands and Florida with full force, killing at least 55 people and damaging thousands of properties. People and businesses, were reeling from the catastrophe. Many still are.
While the damage has been brutal, its full extent still has yet to be determined. These before and after photos, taken in 2014 and 2017 respectively, show the physical impact of a storm that left so many struggling in its wake.
Codrington, Antigua and Barbuda
Irma made its first landfall as a category 5 in Barbuda on September 6, destroying 95 percent of structures on the Caribbean island — which is only 68 square miles — including its only hospital and airport. The island's 1,800 now-homeless residents were evacuated to neighboring Antigua. (The two islands comprise their own nation state). "It is just a total devastation" Gaston Brown, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, said in the immediate aftermath. "Barbuda right now is literally a rubble." Brown's government is now faced with the daunting task of rebuilding, which is expected to cost more than $100 million.
Parham Town, Tortola
One of the most populous British Virgin Islands, Tortola not only fell victim to Irma's winds and waves, but to looting that occurred in its aftermath. The sense of loss and tragedy is pervasive for the island's residents. "It's like we've been bombed," Sarah Penney, who lives in Tortola, told Britain's Press Association news agency. "People's 'everything' is gone: Their businesses, their homes, their churches, their schools, are gone."
Anse Marcel, Saint Martin
The French portion of the island was not spared either; at least eight bodies were uncovered in the hours after Irma struck. In total, 90% of the island's total structures were destroyed. French President Emanuel also visited the island on Tuesday and said it would be rebuilt, according to CNN.
Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
Irma came for the island of Sint Maarten, the portion of the Caribbean island under jurisdiction of the Netherlands, just hours after it destroyed Barbuda. Dutch King Willem-Alexander visited the island Monday and characterized the damage as unprecedented.“I’ve never experienced anything like this before and I’ve seen a lot of natural disasters in my life. I’ve seen a lot of war zones in my life, but I’ve never seen anything like this,” he told the Dutch national network NOS. Like Tortola, looting has also become a problem, causing even more chaos in an already stressful time. "We can't sleep in peace because of the thieves," Yovanny Roque, a 48-year-old mover, told the Associated Press.
Even billionaire Richard Branson could not protect his private island from the wrath of Hurricane Irma. Although Branson said everyone who remained on the island during the storm was safe, he displayed photos showing the destruction. "Much of the buildings and vegetation on Necker has been destroyed or badly damaged. We felt the full force of the strongest hurricane ever in the Atlantic Ocean," he wrote on his blog.
Sources: DigitalGlobe, Juxtapose