Hurricane Irma leveled the tiny, 1,800-person island of Barbuda on Wednesday when the Category 5 storm made landfall, providing a devastating first look at what Irma’s record-breaking strength has in store for those in its path.
“Barbuda is literally rubble,” Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda said in an interview with ABS TV/Radio Antigua, according to CNN.
With winds reaching 185 miles per hour, the storm severely damaged 95 percent of the island’s buildings when it hit early on Wednesday, the New York Times reports. The hurricane left the island in a state the prime minister called “barely inhabitable.”
Hurricane Irma became the strongest storm forecasters have ever observed in the Atlantic basin earlier this week, according to the National Weather Service, and its path is tracking towards Florida and potentially the Carolinas this weekend.
Never miss a local story.
Still, it’s too early to say where exactly it could make landfall in the mainland U.S.
Irma’s incredibly powerful eye hit Barbuda almost directly. Now, about 1,400 of the island’s inhabitants—60 percent of its total population—are homeless, Browne said.
There’s currently no access to water or telephones for residents, Browne added, and one person—an infant—has been confirmed dead.
The child died as a family was trying to escape their home, which the storm had damaged, the Associated Press reports. And few homes on the island were spared, the prime minister said.
“Either they were totally demolished or they would have lost their roof,” Browne told the Associated Press after taking a plane from Antigua to Barbuda to see the destruction firsthand. "It is just really a horrendous situation."
The hurricane also struck Puerto Rico later on Wednesday, causing power outages for 900,000 as rains and high winds lashed the island.