As more details emerge on the damage assessment from Hurricane Irma’s destruction on the U.S. Virgin Islands, it’s becoming more apparent that the U.S. territory is among the Caribbean destinations worst hit by the storm.
According to Reuters, Hurricane Irma killed four people in the U.S. Virgin Islands and caused widespread damage to infrastructure, including to a major hospital, a government spokesman said on Thursday.
The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) confirmed in a statement that both fire and police stations collapsed and the main hospital in St. Thomas sustained heavy damage.
In St. Thomas, Windward Passage will be closed for six months due to Hurricane Irma, while Sugar Bay Resort & Spa sustained significant property damage, forcing its closure through December 31.
On St. Croix, the Buccaneer remains open for business, but reports that there may be some limitation of services over the next few days, according to the CTO.
The U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism has advised that full assessment on the impact of Hurricane Irma is underway and while St. Croix is getting back to business, visitors are being encouraged not to visit the district of St. Thomas and St. John.
In a message to travel partners, Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty expressed thanks for the prayers and support the U.S. Virgin Islands has received following the Category 5 hurricane, the eye of which passed north of the territory on Wednesday.
"The island of St. Croix did not receive the full brunt of the storm, and the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix receives its first commercial flight (JetBlue Airways from San Juan) today," said Nicholson-Doty.
She reported that communications are still limited, there is significant damage to infrastructure in St. Thomas and St. John, and the Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas will not be open for commercial traffic before the next weather system passes the area this weekend.
"We are deeply saddened that lives have been lost and extend our condolences to the families," said Nicholson-Doty. "To ensure everyone's safety, we are requesting the postponement of all scheduled visits to St. Thomas and St. John."