Authorities in St Croix in the US Virgin Islands were trying to contain oil spills after more than 40 boats sank or washed ashore during Hurricane Omar.
About half the vessels lost their anchors, including houseboats, catamarans and pricey yachts and sailboats owned by tourists. The other half were tied at marinas but broke loose, Carlos Fachette, enforcement director for the Department of Planning and Natural Resources, said Friday.
The hurricane caught many local boaters off-guard because they did not take the storm seriously, according to Kim Jones of the St Croix Yacht Club.
“It’s devastating,” she said of the damage. “That puts a brake into people getting into boating, which is such a way of life in the Caribbean. It’s going to take a lot to rebound.”
Roughly 400 boats are registered in St Croix, she said.
Omar became a tropical storm again on Friday night, far from land in the Atlantic Ocean.
Police on Friday also had to rescue three people from a 35-foot catamaran when it hit a reef and ran aground near Salt River Bay, Mr Fachette said.
All St Croix beaches have been deemed unsafe because of high pollution levels, and the Schooner Channel area of the Christiansted Harbour remained closed.
Omar passed overnight Wednesday between St Martin and the US Virgin Islands, where the government has spent more than US$1m in clean up costs.
The storm caused more than US$700,000 in damages to roads in St Croix and destroyed more than 100 utility poles in the eastern region. About half of the island’s 55,000 people remained with power on Friday, said Cassandra Dunn, Water and Power Authority spokeswoman.
“Restoring power to some areas is going to take time,” she said.
St Croix also reported heavy crop damage, as did Antigua, where Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer warned of a produce shortage, saying the farming community “appears to have suffered an extensive loss of crops”.
“No one is reported to have perished in this disaster,” Mr Spencer said late on Thursday, hours after Omar blew past the Lesser Antilles islands as a Category 3 hurricane. “We are, nonetheless, faced with a natural disaster of serious proportions.”
The crop damage comes amid spiralling food prices in the Caribbean and around the world.
On Saturday morning, Omar was located about 775 miles east of Bermuda and had weakened to a tropical storm with top winds of 60 mph. It posed no threat to land and forecasters say it should keep weakening as it heads farther out into energy-sapping cold waters.