(AP) – Dutch authorities are trying to gauge the extent of damage in Sint Maarten from Hurricane Irma, but officials say it appears to be significant.
Sint Maarten is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and shares an island with the French territory of St. Martin. The island is east of Puerto Rico.
Dutch Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk says the damage wreaked on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten by Category 5 Hurricane Irma is “enormous.”
Dutch Caribbean coast guard spokesman Roderick Gouverneur says coast guard officials in Curacao have lost communication with their base in Sint Maarten.
Plasterk told reporters in The Hague on Wednesday that the damage caused by Irma’s direct hit on the island “is so major that we don’t yet have a full picture, also because contact is difficult at the moment.”
He says it remains unclear if Irma caused casualties.
About 100 troops are on the island helping local authorities assess damage and repair vital infrastructure in the storm’s aftermath. Two navy ships are also steaming to the island to offer help.
National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini says Hurricane Irma is so record-breaking strong it’s impossible to hype.
Uccellini told The Associated Press on Wednesday he’s concerned about Florida up the east coast to North Carolina, starting with the Florida Keys.
He warns that “all the hazards associated with this storm” are going to be dangerous.
Hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel of MIT calculates that Irma holds about 7 trillion watts – about twice the energy of all bombs used in World War II.