The North West Company is determining just how badly Hurricane Irma damaged its businesses in the Caribbean as the storm made a destructive trek through the region last week.

The Winnipeg-headquartered company operates 12 stores on the islands that were directly affected by Irma.

The storm "significantly damaged" the Cost-U-Less store in St. Maarten and it's not clear how long it will be closed, CEO Edward Kennedy said in a media release. 

The company is also assessing the damage to the Cost-U-Less store on St. Thomas and its nine other stores and wholesale operations in the British Virgin Islands. But in the grand scheme of things the impact to the businesses is secondary, Kennedy said.

"Our first concern is with the losses people have suffered," he said. "This is a human catastrophe."

More than 1,000 people work for the North West Company in the region, which is also a major food supplier in Canada's North, operating the Northern Store in many communities.

"We are totally committed to safely getting back into operation at the earliest date possible, while working with local authorities any way we can," Kennedy said.   

He expects the North West Company's insurance will cover any of the damages from Irma.

On Sunday, Irma made landfall in Florida with 210 km/h winds knocking out power to more than 2.5 million homes.

The storm killed 24 people in the Carribbean when it made landfall there earlier in the week.

It has since been downgraded to a tropical storm.