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As Hurricane Irma continues its deadly journey, sweeping through Florida on Monday morning, survivors of the monster storm in the Caribbean are counting their losses in lives and dollars.

Reuters reports that the powerful category 5 storm, which battered the Caribbean last week, killed at least 28 people and destroyed billions of dollars in property—leaving scores of people homeless and the tourism industry devastated.

President Donald Trump declared on Sunday a major disaster in Puerto Rico and ordered federal aid for the island, where Irma killed at least 3 people and left thousands without power, The Hill reported.

On the Dutch side of St. Martin, Irma destroyed about 70 percent of the infrastructure, the Dutch government said on Sunday, according to AFP. Civil engineers estimated that it will take months to restore water treatment plants on the French side of the island, where it will cost about $1.44 billion to repair all the damages.

AFP said French President Emmanuel Macron will travel to the region and meet with disaster victims on Tuesday, as humanitarian organizations and governments rush medical supplies, food and water to survivors.

Meanwhile, widespread food and water scarcities on the hardest-hit islands led to looting. That prompted European nations to deploy troops to maintain order. The Netherlands plans to increase its military force to 550 troops by Monday. France will boost its police presence to about 500 on its Caribbean territories, where at least 11 people were arrested since Friday, Reuters said.

On Barbuda, about 90 percent of the buildings and vehicles are damaged or destroyed, the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, has said, according to Reuters. He described the island as “barely habitable.”

Irma also delivered a deadly blow to the region’s $31 billion tourism industry, which accounts for about $56 billion in gross domestic product, Reuters reported.

Jack Richards, president of U.S.-based tour operator Pleasant Holidays, told Reuters that it could take more than a year for the industry to recover.

SOURCE:  Reuters, The Hill, AFP


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