The Before & After Photos Of Hurricane Irma Are Absolutely Devastating

by Lani Seelinger

They say that a picture speaks a thousand words, and nothing hammers that home like looking at photos of hurricane damage after a storm like Hurricane Irma. You hear things like "130 mile per hour winds," but that doesn't mean much in the abstract. When you look at before and after photos of Hurricane Irma, though, you'll know exactly what that means — and it's not pretty.

Hurricane Irma caused widespread devastation across a wide swath of the Caribbean and now Florida as well, upending people's homes and lives. Hundreds of people are already homeless after Irma, and thousands more don't know what they'll find when they come back to the homes they left.

Irma's death toll in the Caribbean and the U.S. is still rising, and flooding could spread up from Florida into Georgia and Tennessee before the storm entirely dissipates. It takes days to really assess how much damage the storm has caused, and these photos will make it quite clear why it usually takes years to fully clean up from such a destructive hurricane.

So far, most of the before-and-after shots have come from various Caribbean islands, which have already have had a few days to start figuring out what they'll be dealing with — but don't take that to mean that Florida got off easy. Irma has left a trail of destruction in its wake, and for the areas affected, this is the beginning of a long and hard journey.

Turks & Caicos

This picture, shot from space, really shows you how Irma churned up the ocean and even changed the coastline in Turks and Caicos.

British Virgin Islands

This small bay, where charter companies store their boats during storms to keep them safe, didn't quite have the intended affect during Irma.

Saint Martin

The island of St. Martin is dealing with a lot more than just damaged buildings in Irma's aftermath.

British Virgin Islands

Another view of Paraquita Bay, just so you can see exactly which way the wind was blowing.

St. Martin

Another beach on St. Martin — notice how the buildings in the bottom right of the first picture simply aren't there in the second picture.

St. Martin Airport

Maho Beach, the famous beach by St. Martin's Princess Juliana International Airport, where tourists could have planes land right over them is just... gone.

British Virgin Islands

From beach paradise to dystopian future in one day.

Marco Island, Florida

Who knows how long it'll take for the flooding to die down — only then can the real cleanup begin.

South Beach, Florida

One of Florida's most well known beach party spots may have escaped the worst of the damage, but it didn't get off scot-free.

Jacksonville, Florida

You'd never know that the second photo wasn't just of a pond.

An Unnamed Coast

You can definitely see how much water has taken over.

Miami, Florida

Luckily, it looks like they avoided the real damage, but that is definitely an angry sea.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is facing some of serious cleanup, even though the worst part of Irma missed the island.

St. Martin

The number of roofs missing is just appalling.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Beaches everywhere have simply changed shape, a common occurrence when a huge storm comes through.

More of these pictures will surely come out in the days to come, but this at least gives you an idea of what Irma actually did. There was a lot of hype around the storm, and none of it was overblown. This was a true disaster, and the U.S. and the Caribbean have a long recovery process in front of them.

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