Caribbean Residents Describe Dire Situation As Food, Water Run Out

CNN/Stylemagazine.com Newswire | 9/13/2017, 7:12 a.m.
A week after Hurricane Irma struck a string of Caribbean islands, some residents find themselves in darkness, as power remains ...

By Madison Park and Emanuella Grinberg, CNN

(CNN) -- A week after Hurricane Irma struck a string of Caribbean islands, some residents find themselves in darkness, as power remains out and increasingly worried as food and water run scarce.

In the storm's aftermath, residents and tourists described a volatile situation with vexing challenges ahead that have forced people to fend for themselves.

"You listen to the radio. You call. But nobody comes," said Leroy Webb, a resident of St. Maarten, which is the Dutch part of the island. The French side of the island is St. Martin.

"I even don't know how long it will take before people here get food. This morning, my wife was making soup with just two potatoes in it. We have nothing to eat," he told CNN affiliate RTL Netherlands.

Hurricane Irma struck a patchwork of independent island nations and territories in various forms of association with France, the Netherlands, the US and the UK and killed at least 38 people in the Caribbean.

Adam Marlatt, the founder of Global Disaster Immediate Response Team, had a stark assessment speaking from St. John, which is part of the US Virgin Islands.

"The biggest problem," he said, was "not just debris but getting people off the island because there's no sustainable option for them."

He said virtually 100% of the power is damaged or destroyed and that every power line over the roads were down. Marlatt said plans to restore normalcy hadn't begun yet because they were busy trying to chain saw through and search for people who may be stuck inside their homes.

From paradise to hell

European politicians, including French President Emmanuel Macron, visited the overseas territories this week. Macron condemned reports of looting and vowed to restore order by deploying 2,000 security personnel to street patrols on the island. He also offered assurances that power will be restored, running water will return and schools will reopen in the coming weeks.

But to those who fled the conditions there, it sounded like wishful thinking.

"It's really like the end of the world over there right now," said Frances Bradley-Vilier, who moved to St. Maarten three years ago. "I'm not trying to be dramatic but there's no water, there's no electricity, there's no way to communicate with each other."

Three days before Irma made landfall, Bradley-Vilier got married to Dominique Vilier, who is from the island. Their newlywed bliss was short-lived.

They had made their home together in St. Maarten in recent years, but it didn't take long for them to realize they had to leave after the storm.

Her husband, Vilier said people were robbing others for whatever they have. Government patrols were overwhelmed by people on the streets with guns, he said. CNN has been unable to verify claims of looting and armed citizens on the streets.

The night before he left, Vilier said two people tried to break into his house "and I had to scare them off."

"That's when I decided I have to leave," he said. "It's madness."