Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne took an aerial survey of Barbuda after Hurricane Irma caused potentially record-setting destruction.
“I have to admit I am the bearer of bad news in that I journeyed to Barbuda this afternoon and what I saw was heart-wrenching, I mean, absolutely devastating,” Browne explained. “In fact, I believe that on a per-capita basis, the extend of the destruction in Barbuda is unprecedented.”
Barbuda is a small island north of Antigua. The 62-square-mile island has little topographical variation, with a maximum elevation of 125 feet.
“From my observation, having done an aerial survey, I would say about 95 percent of the properties would have suffered some level of damage,” Browne said. “Some properties have been absolutely demolished, it is absolutely heart-wrenching.”
As search and rescue efforts continue, Prime Minister Browne says the island is preparing for evacuation.
“We are threatened now potentially by yet another storm, Hurricane Jose,” Browne noted. “If that is the case and it’s coming our way, then clearly we will have to evacuate the residents of Barbuda.”
“In fact, I’m of the view that as it stands now, Barbuda is barely habitable,” he explained, specifically citing mosquito-borne disease.
“The entire housing stock was damaged,” Browne stated. “I believe the cost to repair infrastructure and the homes in Barbuda will be no less than $150 million and that is no exaggeration.”
“It is just a total devastation, Barbuda right now is literally rubble,” he concluded.