As we return to school largely spared from the one of the strongest hurricane’s path of destruction, the small Caribbean islands most affected by the storm are still struggling to pull together some semblance of normal life.
A quick Google search of “places hit worst by Hurricane Irma” brings up a slew of articles about Irma’s expected path through Florida as well as information regarding the power outages seen throughout the state. Unfortunately, these articles make little to no reference to the damage many small Caribbean islands experienced during the storm.
Coverage of the phenomena reflects the views of the U.S. to the affected areas. The small island nation of Barbuda and Anguilla saw unmatched destruction; as of right now 90 percent of the island of Barbuda is uninhabitable. This total destruction is followed by articles not of the state of the people but of the state of tourism.
The Telegraph posted an article regarding the aftermath of the hurricane titled, “Which islands have been worst hit by Hurricane Irma and what is the advice for travelers headed to Florida?” Highlighting the effects of the hurricane upon travel, it notes the damage to popular tourist destinations. What the article lacks is any information regarding the state of the people in these areas.
Articles like The Telegraph’s article are common; few news sources have focused on the human impact of the hurricane but most have reported on the immediate economic or tourist benefit.
This lack of concern is occurring not just in regards to other Caribbean nations but also to parts of the United States. The U.S. Virgin Islands were slammed by Irma during its Category 5 stage. The islands of St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix saw large scale destruction. People’s houses were destroyed, the trees were stripped of their foliage, and power and water is down for much of the islands. All of this happened in an unincorporated territory of the U.S., and it is affecting U.S. citizens yet little action is being taken to come to their aid by the United States.
According to a Business Insider article regarding the abandonment felt by the people of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the people of the Virgin Islands are in desperate need of help. One resident of St. Thomas said, “We are stuck — we are stuck in the middle of the Caribbean, and we need help, and we aren’t seeing it.”
Obviously the United States has a plethora of problems occurring on its mainland; however, the effort made by the government to aid its people is weak at best. As someone with a large number of family members in Puerto Rico, situations like Irma frighten me. While Hurricane Irma skirted Puerto Rico, a large storm could take out much of the infrastructure of an island like Puerto Rico.
The disregard for those not living in mainland America is a painful reminder of the lack of empathy much of America has toward problems not directly affecting them. This pattern of indifference damages relations between the U.S. and its partners in the Caribbean. More importantly, the apathy shows a negligence to care for the human impact in these areas. The lack of attention to these areas is damaging and it is the obligation of the American public to educate themselves on what’s affecting the world around them.