US Coast Guard ships head to Caribbean islands devastated by Irma

ABC News' Linzie Janis reports from San Juan, Puerto Rico.
4:40 | 09/11/17

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Transcript for US Coast Guard ships head to Caribbean islands devastated by Irma
Good morning I'm Lindsay Janice coming to you live from San Juan Puerto Rico where we have had the opportunity. To get our boots on the grounds in one of these devastated islands for the first time. Taking a trip onboard are US Coast Guard cutter. To the Virgin Islands to saint Thomas and I can tell you the destruction there is extensive. We I've got aboard the edge. It just it's Madonna's which you can see behind me it's only a year olds offended fantastic ship the search and rescue ship patrol ship. We boarded about 9 in the morning took us four hours to get to saint Thomas because hurricane Jose had been in the area and the water. Was choppy as we arrived the first thing that you could notice. Was the hillside this this once lush. Green island was literally a heap of mountain sticks it looks like a bunch of dead trees. Hurricane arm literally stripping the trees of their leaves. So so then we get on we get that we get a shore and the Coast Guard the mission was all about he was all that he dropped they were bringing generators food supplies. Clothing for children and the other big admission of this ship was want sportsman they were bringing in federal agents to help. With the security situation on saint Thomas there have been reports of looting we witnessed some ourselves while we were on the ground. A group of people. Attempting to woo to tending to break in to a shipping container. And steal the police responded immediately dozens of cop cars we saw across that island really doing their best to try to maintain law and order even blow. People are growing increasingly desperate and these criminal elements these armed people. Art in some cases armed are taking advantage of the situation out of the the vacuum of power not to much the vacuum of power but. The the authorities who are tied up twining to get this island back up and running. The airport is the story the hospital is just right we saw a school that was destroyed literally. Every building we saw had sustained some sort of damage and was a little deceptive because. You can see the buildings a lot of them are made of concrete in and the structure kind of maintains but the roofs. Are blown off the windows blown out. And of course the power lines as when and they striking things that the utility poles all over. We're down every single one was down with all the power lines along with it and from the locals we actually stop cutting. The the power lines they've been asked not to do that but the only way to get. Through the roads and this happened a few days ago now was to it was to start cutting those poles cutting those lines. That means it's going to be incredibly difficult to get power back to this island. We heard that it would take six months at least six months possibly. Up to a year before the power situation is going to be better there that is one of the main issues people dealing without pot power without drinking water. Food supplies are dwindling but now of course with hurricane Jose out of the area ships like the cutter that we were on are able to start dropping aid. The airports my colleague was able to get in it in a helicopter and take a tour with the customs and border into. Patrol all of that the area around saint Thomas in Saint John Saint John also. Very very heavily damaged by the way. He flew over he flew over at the airport in saint Thomas and it's tower is destroyed so right and how. It's it's only functioning Witten along nicely nicely excuse me. Government aircraft landing there for medical evacuations emergency evacuations and to drop personnel and supplies. Because there's no traffic control tower it's it's a dangerous situation and that's like commercial flights cannot get land. They're hoping to get that going in the next few days. As for saint Maarten where thousands of American tourists are still stranded today. Hurricane Jose is now out of the area and the US military can continue evacuation flights there they've been bringing people out. On C 130s. That airport is also expected to be up and running within about a week according to authorities there so. The situation on the ground in these islands from what we've gathered is getting increasingly precarious. Hurricane Jose caused a delay to the aid and personnel that could get there. So people are growing more desperate and having two to turn to extremes. To get the ions that they need to survive so. We are going to be here and and monitoring this situation will be filing all these American tourists or we're trying to get back from where stranded on their vacations. We're in where they keep you updated but our thanks to the Coast Guard for taking us to saint Thomas of that we can get that look. At the devastation ourselves on the grounds nothing like seeing it for yourself. Up close and personal.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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