Home / World News / Johnson: Irma-hit island looks like Hiroshima

Johnson: Irma-hit island looks like Hiroshima

It took five hours for Irma to strip the trees of their leaves, snap the trunks like celery sticks, and winnow away the bark.

When the hurricane passed, she left behind an island once vivid with the primary colours of nature, a monochrome flat tan.

The storm forced itself through windows and under doors.

It gave rest while its eye passed over, and then returned to the attack from another direction finding weaknesses and tearing buildings from the inside out.

The destruction caused by Irma on Tortola
Video:Sky man on the paradise Irma destroyed

The result, as Boris Johnson the Foreign Secretary saw to his visible horror, was Tortola turned from paradise to a vision of the apocalypse.

No inch was spared the rage of the winds of 185 miles per hour.

Locals said they gusted to 200.

At those speeds and for that many hours, whole shipping containers were picked up like Lego bricks and tossed about by this malevolent child of climate change.

Dorothy Nibs and her husband Alvin are retired.

They lived in a typical Caribbean house of wood.

It had been painted pink and sat on a prime location a few yards from the lapping of the sea in the centre of Tortola’s Road Town on Waterfront Drive.

When the storm struck they stayed in their home. It peeled off the roof until they were were clinging to the front door and watching the kitchen ceiling heave with every gust.

“Finally it flew off and then there was a deep, deep calm. We could escape then to our neighbours,” said Alvin.

Boris Johnson visits Tortola
Image:Boris Johnson said funds were needed to help victims

His wife was clear about what had happened.

“There was a demon in that storm. It had a demon in it,” she said, standing with her husband next to the flattened remains of the home Alvin had inherited from his father.

Nothing remained but a tangled quilt of rubble and clothes.

Gus Jaspert, the governor of this British Virgin Island, responded vaguely that something would be done and said how strong Dorothy was.

The governor is officially the representative of the crown and answerable to the Foreign Office that Johnson runs.

His job until now was to try to keep the island government ticking over and avoid swimming in the same waters as the financial sharks that have made the BVI attractive to the super rich seeking tax efficiency and few questions asked.

Now, like Johnson, he faced dealing with a disaster of spectacular scale in a little piece of Britain with a population of around 25,000.

Boris Johnson visits Tortola
Image:Boris Johnson visits people affected by Irma

The UK government has promised £57m in hurricane aid for the region.

Some 1,250 forces personnel are on their way to help.

Was this enough?

Johnson doesn’t like giving a straight answer and this was no exception.

He said that there would have to be extra funds not just for now but into the future and enthusiastically pumped the air with both fists simultaneously.

But he didn’t say whether, as military sources insist, it was sensible to send more engineers into the Caribbean before outlying islands started to run out of water.

Nor if he was going to ask his Cabinet colleagues for more money.

He said that what he saw reminded him of photographs of the aftermath of the nuclear strike against Hiroshima.

The description was apt.

But Japan got a Marshall Plan to rebuild itself.

It was not clear if Britain’s possessions in the Caribbean would get that sort of attention after his visit.

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