French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said the police department and barracks — two of the strongest buildings on the island — had been destroyed, boding ill for weaker structures on St Martin.
“In terms of material damage, the four strongest buildings on the island of St Martin have been destroyed, which means that the oldest buildings have undoubtedly been totally or partially destroyed,” he told reporters.
The fire station in St Barts is said to be completely under water, with firefighters taking shelter on an upstairs level of the building.
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In St Martin, electricity has been out since 6am.
Harrowing footage from St Maarten shows Irma’s 185 mph winds ripping through the island and leaving rubble in its wake.
At 185mph, Irma is well above the 157 mph threshold of a Category 5 storm.
Aside from local residents, the Caribbean is also home to the rich and famous. British billionaire Richard Branson tweeted from Necker Island — his own private island — to say he was bunking down with friends and family in his concrete wine cellar.