Hurricane’s Devastation Visible as Island Emerges From Isolation

From Associated Press

Lingering storms that kept the outside world from seeing what Hurricane Luis inflicted on this expensive Caribbean playground cleared up Thursday, revealing widespread destruction.

The island was virtually isolated from air and sea access until Thursday, two days after one of the century’s most powerful hurricanes hit.

At least 13 people were killed as the 700-mile-wide storm swept through the region. Hundreds were missing on this island, which is split between the Dutch side and the larger French side known as St. Martin.


The storm demolished entire neighborhoods, yachts, restaurants and luxury hotels. Thousands of tourists were stranded without electricity, running water or telephone service.

Looters attacked stores ripped apart by Luis. “They’re taking jewelry, electronics, everything,” said police Lt. John Reeves, who arrived with a police contingent from Curacao to help restore order.

Up to 2,000 people were homeless on St. Martin, said French administrator Michel Diessenbacher, who arrived from his base in Guadeloupe with 250 French soldiers on a Transall transport plane.

Radio Caribe Internationale, broadcasting from Martinique, aired interviews with witnesses who said Luis was so powerful that it ripped houses from their foundations and tossed nine-ton boats like toys.

The hurricane strengthened Thursday to 130 m.p.h. in the Atlantic as it moved northwest. Luis was not expected to endanger the U.S. mainland, but Bermuda has issued a tropical storm watch.