By Davion Smith, BVI News Online Journalist
Highly placed sources that helped to evacuate residents from the island of Anegada aboard Speedy’s ferry this afternoon said 106 residents boarded the vessel as part of efforts to escape the potentially devastating impact of category 5 hurricane Irma.
That number represents approximately half of Anegada’s population, said Dr Hubert O’Neal, who is representative of the Ninth Electoral District that includes Anegada.
Governor Augustus Jaspert yesterday urged the residents to ‘consider’ leaving the island. He said, considering that Anegada is low-lying, it is vulnerable to storm surges that have the potential to cause significant damage.
The government, in a statement today, noted that persons who choose to remain on Anegada will be left at ‘severe risk’ without any other chance of getting immediate help.
Stubborn people – Dr O’Neal
Dr O’Neal said he is worried about the residents who opted to stay on Anegada.
“It’s always a problem with Anegada; they are a stubborn set of people. They don’t readily want to get up and go, even if you warn them. You could warn them several times over and over they still won’t. But thank God some have decided to move,” he said.
“By and large, it seems like most people are staying. Unfortunately, they decided to do that; not that it surprises me so much because in the past they have done exactly that even with storms bigger than this one. Fortunately, there was no loss of life. But this is my concern for [Hurricane Irma]; the surge that’s gonna happen [will cause] the danger of flooding… There is great possibility of people being in danger; I pray to God that they will be OK.”
Dr O’Neal however encouraged those who decided to remain on Anegada to utilise the emergency shelters, including Claudia Creque Educational Centre.
“Preparations have been made at the school and at the Methodist church [to accommodate them]. So there should be adequate supply of water and food. I think they have standby generators at those shelters.”
Anegada sunnier than Tortola
Meanwhile, one Anegada resident who heeded the appeal to relocate, said her decision was for the best.
The woman, who gave her name only as Mrs Peters, reasoned: “This is not what I wanted to do, but I had no choice for the sake of my kids. So I just gotta do it. Frankly, when I left Anegada today, it looked very bright and sunny compared to what here (Tortola) looks like. So I’m questioning now what it’s gonna be – whether it’s Anegada indeed or Tortola; which is going to get it worse. We are praying and hoping for the best.”
She continued: “My husband decided we were not leaving – actually, and then he said it’s best because of listening to the media and news that said the storm is coming. If it was up to me, I would have been there [on Anegada].”
Commenting on other Anegada residents who decided to remain behind, Mrs Peters told BVI News Online: “They probably have lived out how many hurricanes; so they know what it’s like and what it’s not like. So, I don’t really disagree with them staying.”
Another resident, Vincent, who decided to relocate, said: “The others who decide to stay – I don’t know; them guys love Anegada. As they said, from their past experiences with other hurricanes, they never moved and they not moving. We can only hope for the best.”
Vincent further told BVI News Online that he was happy to evacuate. “It feels really comforting. Really and truly, I’m really happy for the outreach of the government to have us to evacuate… My most important priority are my children. I wanna make sure they are safe and secured. Once that is done, then everything is good.”
Another resident stated that she decided to relocate because she did not want to gamble with her life.
“I’m not from here; I am from Grenada. So, after my bad experience with Hurricane Ivan in 2004, I don’t think Anegada would have been the best place for me. I guess life is more important than belongings,” she told BVI News Online.
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