The eerie online silence from the tiny Caribbean islands ravaged by Hurricane Irma

Repeating Islands

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A report by Abby Ohlheiser for the Washington Post.

The last message Michelle Pickering heard from her mother on Tortola terrified her: “The porch roof fly off,” she said in a text. It was 12:58 p.m. on Wednesday, and the worst of Irma was about to hit the island where she grew up.

Pickering couldn’t sleep that night. In the morning, there was still nothing from her mother or her stepfather. “I tried calling my mom’s number about 20 times,” she said by phone on Friday from Georgia, where she now lives. “It’s nothing, just ringing and ringing and ringing.” Until Irma, Pickering spoke with her mother every day.

“I’m just devastated,” she said. “I’m terrified. What a way to end a text.”

Slowly, Pickering heard from one sibling on the island, and then another. Each said the island was destroyed, and it would be impossible for them to…

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