On tiny Barbuda, a 300-year-old civilization has been 'extinguished'

UK army helicopter

All 1800 residents living on Barbuda were forced to evacuate in the wake of Hurricane Irma, a 608-kilometre wide storm that smashed almost every structure on the island, which is only 160 square kilometres.

"The damage is complete", Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda's Ambassador to the U.S, told PRI. So for the first time in 300 years, no people live on the small piece of land.

On Monday, September 11, even as Hurricane Irma was performing its "dance macabre" over the other countries in the Caribbean, having delivered cruel blows to the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, and all of the French/Dutch Island, St Martin/St Maarten, Pope Francis restated his conviction that Climate Change is real and perilous. At one point, the entire 160 square kilometre (62 square mile) island fit within Irma's massive eye.

"This was a huge monster", Sanders said.

Mentioning that Barbuda has world-class beaches with pink sand and crystal clear water, he said the island is lovely for tourism.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has sent condolences to Gaston Browne, prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda lashed by Hurricane Irma.

"I got calls from people in Campbell River asking if there was something we can do to help the hurricane victims", Somerville says. "We've tried to make living accommodations as good as humanly possible in these circumstances".

As you gather with family, friends and co-workers in the days and months ahead for special events, or to celebrate holidays, reflect on what Hurricane Irma may have taught you and then hold onto those you love a little tighter, and listen with kindness to those you may disagree with in order to find common ground or initiate compromise.

In Antigua and Barbuda, Samaritan's Purse conducted ground assessments (specifically on Barbuda) and is now coordinating with government officials to prepare for the distribution of emergency relief supplies. Now that school is back in session, Antigua must find room for these students. Rebuilding homes and infrastructure could take at least six months, officials said. It's planning to use unmanned aerial vehicles to help assess what's needed for rebuilding Barbuda. This is going to take a while. There is no electricity and no clean water.

"The fact that we had only one fatality, a child who was literally sucked out of the hands of his guardian and found dead the next day, was a miracle". Sanders said that pre-hurricane preparation, including importing supplies from the US, helped provide for the evacuees. "For the first time in 300 years" Sanders said, Barbuda has been left with no living person upon it. Barbuda is not just a disaster, it's a humanitarian crisis. He urged the worldwide community to come to the aid of islands severely hit by the Category 5 storm.

Sanders is seeking help from around the world to aid in recovery efforts, with initial estimates at around $200 million, USA Today reported. According to Sanders, Barbuda generates annual revenues of about Dollars 1 billion, but he thinks they will not be able to recover the island. But the government stated it is keeping a police and military presence on Barbuda. "We can not cope with our own resources alone".

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