Macron heads to Caribbean island flattened by Irma


So far, the entire death toll from the natural disaster throughout the Caribbean has reached 36.

Calls for emergency aid to the island chain began almost as soon as the storm had passed and days later European assistance has begun to flow.

French President Emmanuel Macron will fly into St Martin on Tuesday to survey the damage in the French colony, as authorities seek to deliver supplies of food and water.

King Willem-Alexander visited the Dutch side of the island, St Maarten, on Monday as part of a tour of the region. Soon after arriving, he said: “We’re doing our best to help everybody who needs assistance so have faith in relief efforts.”

Earlier, the Dutch military evacuated residents from the island, including children, back to the Netherlands.

St Martin/St Maarten is just one of several small islands flattened by the storm.

Neighboring islands, including the US Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, were all heavily affected by Hurricane Irma.

Earlier, Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne estimated around 95% of the buildings on the island had been damaged, if not destroyed.

‘There’s no supplies’

Days after the storm, reports were emerging from St. Martin of food and fuel shortages, as well as a lack of clean water.

Evacuees arriving in the United States spoke of their horror as the hurricane passed overhead and the difficult clean up which has followed.

“The problem now is there’s no supplies,” one woman told CNN at San Juan airport in Puerto Rico, where evacuees were being taken.

“(We’re missing) gas for vehicles, diesel gas for generators, diesel gas for all the trucks and front loaders needed to clear the rubble.”

A picture taken on September 11 shows the rubbles from collapsed buildings in Grand-Case, on the French Caribbean island of Saint-Martin.

The woman, who didn’t give her name before being rushed away by officials, said she was flying with her children back to the US to stay with her sister while her husband looked after their house in St. Martin.

“The biggest problem right now is the lack of communications. People just don’t know what’s happening,” she said.

Newlywed Frances Bradley-Villier said all that was left in St. Martin was “devastation.”

“I’ve never experienced a hurricane before in my life … I can’t even come up with the right words to explain the emotion, the anxiety, just not knowing, the fear,” she said.

Her husband Dominique Vilier told CNN there had been looting and robbing in the wake of the hurricane, which has left them without food and water.

“It’s very terrible right now … I actually had two persons try to break into my house at night the day before yesterday and I had to scare them off,” he said.

A woman walks on a street in Marigot, on September 11 on the French Caribbean island of Saint-Martin after it was hit by Hurricane Irma.

European aid arrives

As Macron heads to St. Martin, French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb announced France was currently working on delivering water to affected neighborhoods across the island.

Satellite images show how Irma devastated parts of the Caribbean

He added food supplies were also being provided by 1,500 helpers on the ground in the West Indies, which will increase to 2,000 over the coming days.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Monday 700 troops and 50 police had been deployed to parts of the Caribbean, while the HMS Ocean would soon head to the region loaded with emergency supplies.

“We are continuing to deliver aid, including food and water, to where it is needed … (Some) aid has arrived in the region with much more on the way,” he said in a statement.

Johnson added an effort was underway to restore access to wireless internet and electricity across the region.

UK philanthropist Richard Branson is working in the British Virgin Islands to provide supplies and relief to the local population.

The European Union has also committed to providing $2.4 million for emergency relief.

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