After luis in 1995, it took about two weeks before we were able to see damage of our home there. they were just letting in med help and residents of Island... When we finally did get down and off the plane, we cried like babys to see what that hurricane did.. huge boats in the water overturned, houses without roofs, most business closed, and a much needed Island cleanup. If I recall, it took almost 3 years to get some sort of life back on the Island, I said some sort... this is so bad, there are no words for this..
I experienced first-hand the worst recorded hurricane to ever hit NC (the only Cat 4) in 1954 - Hurricane Hazel. In 1996 I did my 50th birthday party on St. Barts, and my St. Jean beach was completely destroyed by Luis and never recovered from that hurricane.
I've seen tremendous beach damage in the Myrtle Beach area where we owned a condo.
They definitely can be a nightmare. I can only hope that SXM, SBH and other islands don't suffer "over-the-top", but suffer is definitely in the cards.