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Barbuda PM: I’m horrified and saddened

Published: 
Friday, September 8, 2017

In the aftermath of Category 5 Hurricane Irma, Barbuda has been totally devastated and will need in excess of US$150 million to rebuild.

Yesterday, many Islanders grappled to get wifi access to make contact with relatives to at least inform them that they are alive and well.

In Barbuda, according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne in an interview on CNC’s Morning Brew with host Hema Ramkissoon, all telecommunications have been disrupted.

He described sheer sadness as he was being airlifted in a military helicopter from Antigua to Barbuda yesterday evening to get a first-hand view of the damage sustained.

“I was horrified and saddened to see the damages in Barbuda. About 90 per cent of all infrastructure have been destroyed and it will take a very long time for us to rebuild, months into years,” Browne said.

He said he has already approached Caricom and international bodies for help as he believes it would take in excess of US$150 million to rebuild.

“Right now Barbuda is uninhabitable and we are relying on temporary relief. People are bunking in small places, one of which is a concrete building that houses a television station.”

A Trinidadian family residing in Rhode Island in the United States, who wished not to be identified, said they were desperately trying to get in touch with their relatives in St Maarten but were having great difficulty as all communication had been lost on the island. Their relatives have been residing there for over a decade.

Tortola, one of the mostly populated islands of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), also suffered severe infrastructural damage as its hospital, fire station and police stations were identified as being completely destroyed by the hurricane.

One resident, Germain Smith, managed to connect to wifi and took to his Facebook page and in an emotional live video feed to show some of the damage.

“Everything mash up…Nothing saved…nothing…We need help,” Smith cried.

He said he and his son had to run from their home to save their lives and were forced to sleep in a corridor on Wednesday night.

Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Alicia Bárcena, expressed solidarity and offered support and assistance to critical post disaster assessment using ECLAC’s established Damage and Loss Assessment (DaLA) methodology.

The United Nations donor agencies in the Caribbean, including USAID/OFDA, ECHO, DFID, Global Affairs Canada and others, are coordinating their aid in light of the impact of Hurricane Irma and in readiness for the approaching Hurricane Jose.