Hurricane Jose spares storm-ravaged French Caribbean islands

Erick Amador and his dog Barry check out the beach as people prepare for the arrival of Hurricane Irma

When the questioning of the French government's response to the crisis on the two islands affected by the cyclone, St. Martin and St. Barthelemy is now growing, Emmanuel Macron will spend the whole day in order to meet and dialogue with local authorities and inhabitants.

He brought with him 10 tonnes of supplies, but there is demand for much more.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne last week said about 95 per cent of buildings on Barbuda had been destroyed or damaged.

The Caribbean islands of St Martin, St Barts, St Thomas, Barbuda and Anguilla were all struck by the hurricane before it moved on to pummel Cuba and later made landfall in Florida. Several U.S. Navy ships were in the islands, ferrying in heavy equipment for a recovery effort led by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and its local equivalent. The tiny island was one of the first areas lashed by powerful winds and rain, leaving four dead and causing widespread destruction.

To the east, in the Leeward Islands known as the playground for the rich and famous, governments came under criticism for failing to respond quickly to the hurricane, which flattened many towns and turned lush, green hills to brown stubble.

Macron's plane touched down in Guadeloupe on Tuesday en route to St Martin. Reuters/Christophe Ena/Pool France's President Emmanuel Macron talks with a resident during his visit to St Martin yesterday.

Meanwhile, a mother picking up her daughter, a survivor who flew to Paris on Monday, said with condition of anonymity that government help was non-existent on Saint Martin.

About 1,500 French troops, police and emergency workers are already on the ground to help islanders, and 500 others were expected to arrive in the coming days, according to French authorities.

Dutch Foreign Minister Bert Koenders said he believes the European Union should send relief funds to both the French and the Dutch sides of St. Martin, and said he would also appeal to the United Nations to help the islands.

Many homes on St. Barts are destroyed.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson defended his government's response to what he called an "unprecedented catastrophe" and promised to increase funding for the relief effort.

A prison at Point Blanche, which has about 130 prisoners, was badly damaged but no prisoners escaped, Dutch officials said.

The Dutch Red Cross has raised RM16m for the devastated islands in under a week.

A former UK EU representative for the government of Anguilla, Dorothea Hodge, told The Guardian that "It's absolutely disgraceful that it has taken the whole day for Priti Patel [Development Secretary] to respond to the worst hurricane we have seen in a British territory since the 1920s".

But many like Tejera are struggling to maintain a semblance of the life they had before Irma as they fight off hunger and thirst.

A woman amidst the crowd waiting to be lifted to France said, "We've been here since six in the morning and we're still waiting, under a blazing sun", while another woman asked: "Why are you here?"

"We have had a swift response from Britain and we are extremely grateful for it", she told CNN.

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