By Esther Durand, BVI News
September 6, 2017, is proving to be a date that has left lasting effects on residents of the British Virgin Islands.
Although exactly 12 months have elapsed, normalcy has returned, and the days of rationing food and fuel have gone like the debris that once littered local communities, Hurricane Irma has left mental scars that are not as easily removed.
BVI News ventured through Road Town this week to gather reviews about the one-year-old hurricane. But, for most, September 6 last year is a day residents rather keep buried.
“I don’t want to hear that woman’s name – she hurt me,” one female resident said while referring to Hurricane Irma.
“I don’t have anything, any clothes … I had to beg people clothes. If rain coming, me wet. My house mash up,” she told BVI News.
“Me four-bedroom house gone. I still ain’t got nowhere [to live] yet,” another female resident said before shaking her head and looking away.
BVI News met several others including a police officer who said the memory was still so fresh in his mind that it was too painful to revisit.
I lost my restaurant
Chef Imran Ashton said his Plumrose restaurant at Prospect Reef, Tortola was destroyed in the hurricane.
As a result, he had to move his business to a temporary location under a tent in the parking lot next to the BVI Taxi Association in Road Town.
He said despite having to now move back and forth carrying food and other items needed for his make-shift restaurant, he is still grateful.
As for his home, he told BVI News his Great Mountain residence was flooded during the disaster.
“It was not my first hurricane, but with that strength and with that magnitude and the level of destruction it was the first time. And it is one of those life moments that you would always remember for the rest of your life,” he said.
“The wind had the house and at one point. I held onto the front door and it felt like there were 20 men outside pulling against me … I felt it was ready to go at any moment.”
I hid in the passageway
Daniel Shaw, a resident of Sea Cows Bay recalled having to hide for hours in a hallway between two bedrooms and also in the bathroom to ‘ride out the storm’.
“I see the door and everything start to fly. I see the roof, everything moving everybody start to pray for the storm to stop,” he said.
“The pressure that come with from the sea – I think that wasn’t going to stop. My brother hold the door and it twist up and is God save him because he would just chop up if it did fly.”
I hid in my pantry
Odnis Ortiz, who lived at West End during the hurricane, said he and his wife hid in their pantry to protect themselves from the projectiles, wind, and rain.
“We started receiving heavy winds and, by 11 o’clock, we then went into the pantry looking for shelter. When I came out, the island was totally out of electricity and water. We came through OK, thank God.”
“I wouldn’t wish [Hurricane Irma] on no man,” said Ortiz, while noting that his apartment was wrecked.
We boarded up late
Naddra Crabbe of Lambert Estate said, like many others, her family thought the territory would be spared from Irma.
Crabbe said when they realized that the wind was increasing in strength, they started to secure their windows and doors.
Despite their efforts, however, the force of the wind broke the windows and pulled their belongings apart, she said.
“It was an eye-opener I had never experienced anything that drastic before,” she said while describing the razed hillside as something resembling the remnants of a forest fire.
Exactly one year ago today, the northern Caribbean island chain where the territory lies was met with category-five force winds, torrential rain and even tornadoes, some eye-witnesses claim.
It ripped apart homes and livelihoods, claimed lives, and injured many; leaving destruction in its wake after its daylight attack.
One year on, many are still living in cramped quarters with family and friends as the housing infrastructure is slowly being rebuilt.
Many are trying to bounce back from looting that followed the hurricane while the final relics of the disaster are being cleared around the territory.
Below are before-and-after photos in relation Hurricane Irma:
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