Aerial Video: Lush National Park decimated by Irma

The video coming out of St. John, U.S. Virgin Island shows the once lush island stripped bare.

St. John is the smallest of the three main U.S. Virgin Islands, and about 60% of the island is a United States, National Park.

Aptly named Virgin Islands National Park, the tropical island has incredible hiking trails that cut through its thick tropical rainforest.

Virgin Island National Park Hurricane Irma
The Visitor Center at Virgin Island National Park after Hurricane Irma. Credit: NPS

Unfortunately, aerial video coming out of the island illustrates that Hurricane Irma reduced the island to a wasteland. The majority of the trees on St. John are gone, and debris from homes is scattered.

Before and after images of St. John drive home just how bad the damage is.

One Shirt = One Tree
Plant a Seed

The 20-mile square island, which typically shelters migratory birds like cuckoos and warblers now offers little shelter for wildlife or people.

Jon Adams flew over the island in a helicopter on September 10th and posted the surreal damage YouTube.

Video of St. John pre-Irma shows the beauty that millions of tourist are more accustomed to seeing.

NASA’s Earth Observatory also released satelite images showing the stark changes caused by Hurricane Irma. Below are satelitte images captured on August 25 and September 10.

St. John Hurricane Irma
Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

What’s the status of the Park?

The National Park Service reports that all employees at the park are safe. The NPS says that the damage at St. John is so extensive that the extent of the damage can not be assessed.

Power has been restored to the park visitor center and emergency crews are working to reestablish lines of communication. The NPS reports that Non-essential personell have been evacuated.

History of Virgin Island National Park

In 1956, Laurance Rockefeller donated his extensive lands on the island to the United States’ National Park Service, under the condition that the lands were protected from future development.

The park is home to several archeologcal sites dating from 840BC to the arrival of Christopher Columbus.

Over the past ten years, the park has had an average of 450,000 visitors a year.

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