Chevy Chase

Irma reduces St. John, a once-lush gem in the U.S. Virgin Islands, to a wasteland

Irma reduces St. John, a once-lush gem in the U.S. Virgin Islands, to a wasteland

The Asolare restaurant is gone, practically blown off its cliff, along with its world-famous carrot ginger soup. The facade of Margarita Phil's is a junkyard of yellow and vermilion planks. Multimillion-dollar homes and aluminum huts alike lay in ruins.

On the island of St. John, that was only Irma's beginning. Once a lush gem in the U.S. Virgin Islands, a chain steeped in the lore of pirates and killer storms, this 20-square-mile island is now perhaps the site of Irma's worst devastation on American soil.

Six days after the storm - some say several days too late - the island finally has an active-theater disaster zone. Military helicopters buzz overhead and a Navy aircraft...