When Hurricane Irma hit Barbuda, it not only left the Caribbean island uninhabitable — it left the island deserted for the first time in 300 years.
Nearly every one of the almost 2,000 Barbudans on the island were forced to evacuate. Many decamped to Antigua, Barbuda’s much more developed and richer sister island, where they’re staying with friends, family or in a number of refugee camps that dot the island.
Now Barbuda faces more than just rebuilding — it will likely have to completely remake itself. Up until now, the island has remained largely untouched, thanks to quirky rules about land ownership that date back to the end of slavery. They’ve kept it green, but also prevented it from developing a sustainable economy. But without enough money coming from within or abroad, the rebuilding process is barely inching along.
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This segment originally aired October 10, 2017, on VICE News Tonight on HBO