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Irma left islands like a ‘war zone’

  • Damage from Hurricane irma

Former Bermuda resident Kenneth Morgan yesterday said the devastation in the hurricane-hit British Virgin Islands was like a “war zone”.

Mr Morgan added: “The damage is vast and will take a long time to rebuild — the human suffering is the worst thing at the moment.”

He said that his home in the Shannon area above Tortola’s northern shore is “gone”.

He said: “People are wandering around in a daze. It came right over us.

“I had never experienced that before — we got the worst of it. There is devastation everywhere you look.”

Mr Morgan was speaking from Tortola, BVI’s largest and most populated island that took a direct hit from the Category 5 Hurricane Irma, as communication across the island and with the outside world returned.

Residents were forced to take shelter in cisterns, bathrooms and under stairs as Irma battered the island.

Mr Morgan said: “‘Sheltered’ is a relative term for me. I had storm shutters, but two windows blew anyway — they’re not made to handle that level of ferocity.”

Now living in a friend’s basement apartment, Mr Morgan said the Tortola community was rallying to get basic services up and running again.

He added: “Our financial services industry is critical, and we want to get the message out that the regulatory system is up and running with a certain amount of remote access. Everyone is trying hard so that clients can still get service.”

Mr Morgan was speaking from a bar offering basic meals in Road Town, the BVI capital, where he described seeing boats left wrecked on the docks by the storm

Also on the island were Liz Boden’s nephew Jeremy “Rusty” Henderson, his wife Kate and their two sons who are 11 and 9. Ms Boden said: “We have had the most horrendous four days. We’ve had a horrific time just like my sister — his mother — because communications have been non-existent.

“We know more about what happened in Tortola than they do. We’ve been glued to the news, of course.

“Social media has been fantastic with people offering help.”

She said her nephew works in IT and networking and if anyone could get communications up and running, it would be him. He eventually managed to send a message that said: “We are alive. We are well. Our roof is on.”

He then messaged to say that they needed to evacuate, as there was no food or water, and that they were looking for a boat because there were no commercial flights available yet.

But she said he added yesterday that he would stay to help get the communications back up and running. It took her nephew’s wife two days just to get hold of her parents, who also live in the BVI.

Ms Boden had worried because her nephew’s home was on a hillside.

She said: “I think we were just hopeful.”

Progressive Labour Party MP Christopher Famous heard from his sister, Roslyn Famous, who also lives in Tortola, on Friday night.

He said: “She is fine, although the island has been totally devastated.”

Speaking to The Royal Gazette on Thursday last week, he said he had not heard from anyone in Tortola for 24 hours.

Haiti was also in Irma’s path but damage there was not as bad as initially feared.

Phillip Rego, founder of Feed My Lambs Ministry, said the orphanage, school and clinic the charity runs in Montrouis had avoided major damage.

“We opened up our school for people to use our facility as a refuge.”

He said there was high waters and high winds. But he added: “It’s nothing like St Maarten or Barbuda, nothing like what you see on the news — that is normally us.”