They started with the grocery stores, scavenging what they needed for sustenance: water, crackers, fruit.
But by nightfall on Thursday, what had been a search for food took a more menacing turn, as groups of people, some of them armed, swooped in and took whatever of value was left: electronics, appliances and vehicles.
“All the food is gone now,” Jacques Charbonnier, a 63-year-old resident of St. Martin, said in an interview on Sunday. “People are fighting in the streets for what is left.”
In the few, long days since Irma pummeled the northeast Caribbean, killing more than two dozen people and leveling 90 percent of the buildings on some islands, the social fabric has begun to fray in some of the hardest-hit communities.
As reports of increasing desperation continued to emerge from the region over the weekend, governments in Britain, France and the Netherlands, which oversee territories in the region, stepped up their response. They defended themselves against criticism that their reaction had been too slow, and insufficient. Both the French and Dutch governments said they were sending in extra troops to restore order, along with the aid that was being airlifted into the region.
After an emergency meeting with his government on Sunday, President Emmanuel Macron of France said he would travel on Tuesday to St. Martin, an overseas French territory. Mr. Macron also announced late on Saturday that he would double France’s troop deployment to the region, to 2,200 from 1,100; officials say the increase is in part a response to the mayhem on St. Martin.
The Dutch territorial side of the island has also experienced widespread security problems at shops. The issue was reported to have subsided by Sunday, though not completely. Read More