Desperation Mounts in Caribbean Islands: ‘All the Food Is Gone’

This article comes from MSN.com

By AZAM AHMED and KIRK SEMPLE

MARIGOT, St. Martin — At dawn, people began to gather, quietly planning for survival after Hurricane Irma.

They started with the grocery stores, scavenging what they needed for sustenance: water, crackers, fruit.

But by nightfall on Thursday, what had been a search for food took a more menacing turn, as groups of people, some of them armed, swooped in and took whatever of value was left: electronics, appliances and vehicles.

“All the food is gone now,” Jacques Charbonnier, a 63-year-old resident of St. Martin, said in an interview on Sunday. “People are fighting in the streets for what is left.”

In the few, long days since Irma pummeled the northeast Caribbean, killing more than two dozen people and leveling 90 percent of the buildings on some islands, the social fabric has begun to fray in some of the hardest-hit communities.

Residents of St. Martin, and elsewhere in the region, spoke about a general disintegration of law and order as survivors struggled in the face of severe food and water shortages, and the absence of electricity and phone service.

As reports of increasing desperation continued to emerge from the region over the weekend, governments in Britain, France and the Netherlands, which oversee territories in the region, stepped up their response. They defended themselves against criticism that their reaction had been too slow, and insufficient. Both the French and Dutch governments said they were sending in extra troops to restore order, along with the aid that was being airlifted into the region.

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