For the residents of Saint Martin – Sint Maarten, this name will remain engraved forever in their memory. On September 6, 2017 from 2 am until noon, hurricane Irma hurtled through the tiny Caribbean island, destroying everything in its wake. Classified as a category 5 (the highest level on the Saffir-Simpson scale), with sustained winds of more than 350km/h, a coastal surge towering over 10 meters, submerging entire neighborhoods, the giant storm covered an area the size of mainland France. Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever recorded in this part of the globe, leading specialists to refer to it as a super-hurricane, spread chaos and devastation across the entire island, leaving residents shocked and bruised.
The images illustrating this special edition were captured in the hours and days following the passage of Irma by photographers who live in Saint Martin – Sint Maarten. They all wanted to document for posterity the extreme violence of the storm in order to leave a lasting record of this important and unique event. Each of these apocalyptic images expresses the particular sensitivity of the photographer who took it and frequently, ironically, a strange “beauty”. Some deliver a visual shock that reveals the fury of the storm and the elements. Othersconvey a spirit of hope and optimism.