An Ontario teacher at the Caribbean International Academy in St Maarten, who says he stayed to help his students after Hurricane Maria, paints a disturbing picture of the destruction after the category 5 storm.
The hurricane was the second of two category 5 storms to batter the Caribbean within the last month, killing at least 32 people.
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Brett Gloor, a seventh grade teacher, found himself barricaded in his laundry room as the storm barreled through the island.
There was "a constant howling," he said. "You could hear sheet metal getting blown around, snapping," Gloor recalled on CBC Radio's Here and Now.
As he tried to see through a thick mist when he first stepped outside after the hurricane, Gloor was confronted with the "sheer damage" left behind.
"I've heard of hurricanes taking the leaves off every tree but this one, it took entire branches off every tree, every building, every vehicle, everything was damaged," he said.
Cars rolled over, steel gates blown in
"Cars had been rolled over and over again. Solid steel gates were blown in. There must've been hundreds of twisters on the island," he described.
His school was, however, one of the less damaged buildings in the area — it was built to withstand this type of disaster.
"Looking around the island you can tell what was built to hurricane code and what wasn't," the teacher said, adding the building next door was completely flattened.
Gloor has no running water or power at the moment and cell service is "a hit or miss." He said he was prepared for that, but not for the danger faced by the residents.
"You see people siphoning gas, people looting, people walking around with blackened eyes, just fear in their faces," he recalled.
Gloor said immediately after the storm, he and his students "barricaded ourselves in, we had some makeshift weapons to protect ourselves."
Teacher and students restarting
Gloor and his students have now started to clear their school.
"I've been lucky to meet up with a few of my students and we've been working together at the school. We're really trying hard to open the school on Monday with core subjects," Gloor said.
Meanwhile, the storm continues on its path of destruction. By Friday evening, Maria was passing east-northeast of the southeastern Bahamas with top sustained winds of 205 km/h.