Hurricane Irma hit the tiny Caribbean island of Barbuda so hard that, for the first time in 300 years, no one is living there.
“The damage is complete,” Ronald Sanders, the Antigua and Barbuda ambassador to the United States, told Public Radio International. “It’s a humanitarian disaster. For the first time in 300 years, there’s not a single living person on the island of Barbuda — a civilization that has existed in that island for close to, over 300 years has now been extinguished.”
All 1,800 residents living on Barbuda were forced to evacuate in the wake of Hurricane Irma, a 378-mile-wide storm that smashed nearly every structure on the island, which is only 62 square miles. Most are now staying on Antigua.
“This was a huge monster,” Sanders said. “The island and the people on the island had absolutely no chance.”
It will take around $200 million for Barbuda to recover — and the island won’t be able to rebuild without outside help, he added.
“We are a small island community — the gross domestic product of Antigua is $1 billion a year,” Sanders explained. “We cannot afford to take on this responsibility by ourselves. Barbuda is not just a disaster, it’s a humanitarian crisis. We are hopeful that the international community will come to our aid, not because we’re begging for something we want, but because we’re begging for something that is needed.”