Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Saturday that the citizens of St. Maarten have resorted to widespread looting after Hurricane Irma arrived and destroyed nearly the entire island.
About 230 Dutch troops and police are already patrolling the small Caribbean island and another 200 will arrive shortly, Rutte told reporters. He issued a warning that government officials intend on using military troops and police to stamp out pockets of lawlessness.
The Dutch government estimates that Hurricane Irma, which is currently plotting a course for the western coast of Florida, either completely destroyed or badly damaged nearly 70 percent of houses on St. Maarten.
The storm’s aftermath left as many as 40,000 residents reliant on public shelters as they brace for Hurricane Jose, a Category 4 hurricane that is currently trailing behind Irma. St. Maarten was one of several Caribbean islands, including Puerto Rico and Barbuda, to see Irma’s wrath.
One airplane pilot who surveyed the island after Irma’s arrival said the magnitude of what unfolded outside his plane’s windows during his Saturday flight across the island was breathtaking.
“It’s an island that virtually doesn’t have infrastructure anymore,” Wade Fleet, who pilots a Dash 8 patrol plane for Newfoundland-based PAL Aerospace, told BBC reporters about the scope of the damage. “There is no power. There is no running water. Most of the supermarkets were completely destroyed. So, there is not really any food.”
Irma has flattened nearly every thing in its path. The small island nation of Barbuda, for instance, was almost completely destroyed. Prime Minister Gaston Browne said nearly 100 percent of all structures on the island were destroyed and that 60 percent of the Barbuda’s residents were left homeless.
The prime minister called Irma’s sustained 180 mph winds “unprecedented” for Antigua and Barbuda.
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