Exactly a month after Hurricane Irma slammed into the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and left a trail of death and destruction, residents answered a call for them to participate in a hastily convened ceremony, partly to express gratitude for the lives saved.
They also observed a moment of silence for the four people whose lives were snuffed out during the category 5 hurricane on September 7.
The solemn occasion also provided another opportunity. The government used it to officially release the names of the dead – one of whom remains unidentified.
Irma claimed the lives of the unidentified man referred to as ‘John Doe’, Charles Thomas, Derek Ragnauth, and well-known athletics coach Xavier ‘Dag’ Samuels.
“Those are the ones we can account for who died during Hurricane Irma. Post hurricane Irma we have had quite a number of deaths as well. So we also at this time pause to remember those family members,” said Carolyn Stoutt-Igwe, permanent secretary in the Deputy Governor’s Office.
Premier Dr D Orlando Smith, while addressing the relatively small gathering, said he is relieved that the death toll is not higher.
“We must say that we are thankful that there was only [four] deaths due this hurricane. We must be very thankful to God for sparing all the rest of us. Even as we offer condolences and deep sympathy for those who have lost their loved ones, God has been good to us, and we’re here to give thanks for his goodness,” the premier said.
“Because God has been good to us, now we have to continue to be good to ourselves; and we have to get together – band together as a community to make sure that we continue the work that we started immediately after the hurricane. That is, getting this country back on track.”
Meanwhile, residents, who gathered at Queen Elizabeth II Park in Road Town for the ceremony sang Gospel songs and prayed for the hurricane-battered territory.
The hour-long event also included comments from Governor Augustus Jaspert, as well as a short sermon by Bishop Ishmael Charles.
Hurricane Irma did not only claim lives. It also caused severe damage to private and publicly-owned property across the BVI.
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