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Irma survivors tell tales of fear
Twelve T&T nationals who became stranded in St Maarten and the British Virgin Islands after the passage of Hurricane Irma were airlifted out of those islands yesterday.
The rescue exercise was co-ordinated by the Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs and Ministry of National Security.
A release from the National Security Ministry yesterday said the Government, in conjunction with the government of Antigua and Barbuda and T&T's National Helicopter Services Limited, made arrangements to airlift nationals who had provided them with their information from St Maarten yesterday. However, the T&T Guardian was told that these nationals will be returning to Trinidad today.
An official request is also being made to the British government for assistance with respect to the evacuation of T&T nationals in the BVI, the release said.
Meanwhile, T&T nationals and other regional citizens who survived Irma's passage began arriving on flights at the Piarco International Airport last night, some of them just happy to be alive after experiencing one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit the region.
Antiguan cosmetologist Angie Skerritt said last night she was encouraged by the outpouring of love from the Antiguans to their fellow countrymen and women from sister-isle Barbuda, which was completely destroyed by Irma.
Speaking to the T&T Guardian minutes after disembarking Caribbean Airlines flight BW459 from Antigua, Skerritt thanked God that Antigua did not suffer the extent of infrastructural damage that Barbuda did.
“It was scary but it was not what we anticipated. We had very high winds but no rain. Thank God we survived,” Skerritt said.
“All Antiguans came out with clothes, foodstuff and water for the people of Barbuda. They were comforted, motivated and gave love and faith and that by itself was encouraging to me,” she added.
Skerritt is originally from St Vincent but now lives in Cedar Valley, Antigua. She decided to come to Trinidad on vacation for the rest of this week.
Architect Newton Charles, also of Antigua, said his Hurricane Irma experience caused much anxiety.
“Prior to the hurricane we were getting reports of the intensity of the storm, which was our first of that magnitude. I’m into building codes and our buildings are built to stand up to maximum 150 mph winds not as much as 185 mph and a Category 5,” Charles said.
“I thought nothing is going to stand but we made it through. Sad state for Barbuda though.”
Antiguan Nakeebah James a student here in Trinidad, said she was terrified during the hurricane’s passage.
“I went home for vacation. It was frightening, but thank God I am able to return to my studies.”
Meanwhile, Trinidadian Alicia Thompson was glad to be home although Dominica was spared Irma's wrath.
Returning from Dominica through Antigua and Barbuda last night on Liat flight LI309, Thompson, of San Juan, said after surviving Irma unscathed, setting foot on T&T soil had taken on a new meaning.
She said her experience of Irma was still a very scary one.
"I never looked at weather news like that when I was in Dominica before, because I wanted to know what's happening and which hurricane is going to hit," Thompson said.
She has been trying to return to Trinidad since last Friday, but only managed to get a flight out of Dominica yesterday evening. That flight went to Antigua before arriving in Trinidad.
"It was a bit fearful for me because we don't be on so much of an alert as the islands up north," she said.
A T&T national who wished not to be identified said he came in through Antigua from Jamaica and was “just lucky to escape Hurricane Irma in its entirety.”
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