Authorities from the French islands of Saint Martin and Saint Barthélemy reported two people dead and Barbuda reported one death Wednesday, as Hurricane Irma's 185-mph winds destroyed homes and buildings.
Dutch marines who flew to three Dutch islands reported extensive damage. Annick Girardin, the minister for French overseas territories feared the death toll was going to increase.
"We have a lot to fear for a certain number of our compatriots who unfortunately didn’t want to listen to the protection measures and go to more secure sites ... We’re preparing for the worst," Girardin said.
Yachts and cars were damaged on the half French, half-Dutch island of St. Martin/Sint Marteen, an island with a population of 75,000.
Dutch authorities were describing the destruction on the Dutch side as "enormous." French authorities reported four of the "most solid" buildings were destroyed and there were reports of severe damages at the airport.
Antigua's Prime Minister Gaston Browne shared his relief after the storm spared the 90,800 people of Antigua and Barbuda.
"Thank God for his mercies and blessings. He has protected and spared us from the worst of Irma," Browne wrote on Facebook.
Meteorologist Betty Davis said the storm was east-southeast of St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands and 90 miles east of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
"We have to prepare for the worst," Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello said. "If we don’t, it could be devastating."
Meteorologist Max Mayfield, the former director of the National Hurricane Center, expects Hurricane Irma to impact the Bahamas Friday and curve toward South Florida Saturday.
ABCNews Tara Folwer, Emily Shapiro and Mark Osborne contributed to this report. Associated Press writers Danico Coto, Anika Kentish in St. John’s, Antigua; Seth Borenstein in Washington; Michael Weissenstein in Havana, Cuba and Ben Fox in Miami contributed to this report.