Ambassador encourages people to pay attention to Barbuda after Irma devastation

Published: Sep. 14, 2017 at 10:22 PM EDT

“It’s not an image that leaves your mind quickly," Ambassador Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the U.S. said.

Sanders was recalling the tragic moment Hurricane Irma struck the island of Barbuda. When it left buildings destroyed or barely standing. Now the island doesn’t have any electricity or water, forcing the entire population of Barbuda to evacuate to Antigua.

“We removed 1700 people plus from Barbuda to Antigua, and we’ve had to find shelter and food and water, and all of that for them while at the same time thinking about how we get 500 school children into schools," he added.

Now, the rebuilding begins. Sanders says that’s a $250 to $300 million job.

“While the government is doing it’s very best, to cope with that situation and start a rebuilding process in Barbuda, we simply can’t take on a project of that magnitude by ourselves," Sanders added.

But his biggest fear? People forgetting.

“Next week, if some other thing happens, this can be yesterday’s news, in which nobody is paying any attention," he said.

That’s why Sanders’ said awareness is just as important as recovery. He’s working with the US Congress and the Organization of American States to send aid so the residents can get back on their feet.

“They’re anxious to go back home. But they can’t go back home while the island is in the present condition.”

Sanders doesn’t know when the residents of Barbuda will be able to return but he does know they'll rebuild.