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    Jesse Ferrell

    Hurricane Irma before and after aerial images show Caribbean destruction

    By Jesse Ferrell, AccuWeather meteorologist
    9/17/2017, 2:27:56 PM

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    DigitalGlobe has released new satellite images of Barbuda and the British Virgin Islands via Google, showing the massive damage Hurricane Irma did to them. Aerials from helicopters show the depressing scenes in detail. You don't find many collapsed houses, because most of the construction is concrete, top to bottom. What you see is houses with the roofs gone (and the top floors scrubbed clean). The satellite images available do not yet include the British Virgin Island with the most population, home to the city of Tortola, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, but I will post additional images of them when available. (Left is "before" and right is "after" -- slide the bar from right to left to see the difference -- CHROME OR FIREFOX REQUIRED).

    I looked at Barbuda first, which was said to be almost completely destroyed. The number of structures there is small, however (only one town) so I was only able to find one really stark comparison (enlarge). Several of the homes there were completely destroyed, with debris spreading out around the community. It looks like damage from a strong tornado. What you can't see, I suspect, is that every home is significantly damaged.

    The rest of the comparisons were from the British Virgin Islands, which really got devastated by the storm, and are home to 28,000 people. Damage, of course, was worst on the northern sides of the island, which were closer to the hurricane and directly exposed to the winds from the north.

    This first before-and-after image (enlarge) -- which may be the same view shown at the end of this helicopter video, and looks more like nuclear war devastation than hurricane. Houses are reduced to skeletons, with debris scattered several houses away. Two docks and a pavilion are destroyed. What was once a grove of carefully-planted palm trees is simply gone. All vegetation has been stripped of leaves, turning the green tropical island brown.

    The image below shows what's left of the Beef Island Tortola Airport on the island (enlarge). Hangars and planes are completely destroyed; the radome (or air traffic control tower?) is still standing, but appears empty. I am not sure if the large planes in the upper right were there before the storm or not (one appears to possibly be separated from its tail).

    Zooming out (enlarge), you can see severe damage to the nearby coastal homes/businesses as well.

    In Leverick Bay, shown below (enlarge), most of the round houses are destroyed, while the square houses (especially those with the red roofs) have fared better (wood vs. concrete construction perhaps?) The dock at right has been replaced with a random beached barge.

    And finally, an island unto its own (enlarge). Five out of seven major structures were destroyed.

    The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com


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    Jesse Ferrell