Burt: Bermuda set to send hurricane help
Bermuda is set to fly its soldiers on a mercy mission to British Overseas Territories in the Caribbean devastated by Hurricane Irma.
In a message of solidarity to the islands hit and others braced for impact, David Burt, the Premier, offered to deploy the Royal Bermuda Regiment in a disaster recovery effort.
Mr Burt said assistance from the island would be sent in consultation with the Governor, John Rankin, once the potential threat of Hurricane Jose had passed the island.
He added that he had attempted to contact leaders of the affected territories, and described Irma’s path of destruction as an “enormous catastrophe”.
Mr Burt said: “While Bermuda may not be situated in the Caribbean, we share a connection and a bond.
“Today, we feel their pain, as we are all family.”
He said the Government had liaised with the Bermuda Red Cross to collaborate on relief efforts.
This afternoon Mr Rankin, said that Government House have been monitoring the devastation caused by the storm.
“As Prime Minister Theresa May made clear today, RFA Mounts Bay has been providing valuable assistance to Anguilla and BVI, including ensuring airfields are serviceable so military aircraft can be flown in with supplies,” he said.
“Offers of help from the Bermuda Police Service and Royal Bermuda Regiment have been gratefully received though of course these are being considered carefully in the light of any future risk to Bermuda posed by Hurricane Jose.”
He added that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office had set up a hotline for anyone concerned about friends and relatives affected by Hurricane Irma. That hotline number is (44) (0) 207-008-0000.
The statements came as Bermudians feared for the safety of friends and family in the Caribbean after one of the worst storms in history barrelled through the region.
Hurricane Irma wreaked havoc in Barbuda and Saint Martin, leaving at least nine dead, before it moved on to lash the northern coast of Hispaniola and threatened Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas.
Bermudian businessman and actor Gavin Wilson attempted to contact his friend, Ken Morgan, who lives in Tortola — the largest of the British Virgin Islands — but has heard nothing back.
Mr Wilson explained that Mr Morgan used to live in Bermuda, where he worked at Butterfield Bank, and is a regular visitor to the island. He added: “It’s very worrying. What worries me most is that his house is 800ft above water on a mountain.”
Mr Wilson said Mr Morgan had hunkered down in a small cottage on his property and they “e-mailed back and forth a bit” on Wednesday.
But he has not been able to reach him since, as communications were “non-existent”.
Progressive Labour Party MP Christopher Famous has also not heard from his sister, Roslyn Famous, and his two aunts who also live in Tortola.
He said: “We haven’t had word from anyone in Tortola for 24 hours.”
But Mr Famous said that was likely due to a loss of communications rather than loss of life and said he is not “overly worried”.
He added: “It’s a small community — had something happened to her, they would have got word out.”
Mr Famous added that he had been part of a 20-strong team of regiment soldiers sent to the BVI after a hurricane hit in 1989.
He said: “From what I am seeing so far, the devastation is three times worse than in 1989.”
Dave Joseph, from Antigua, said damage to the island had been “fairly minimal”.
Mr Joseph, whose girlfriend’s family lives in Bermuda, said their main concern was their sister island Barbuda, which was “devastated”. He added 90 to 95 per cent of the buildings on Barbuda had been damaged after the storm made landfall in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Mr Joseph said the country felt the brunt of the storm between midnight and 2am.
He added that there was lots of wind, but not as much rain as anticipated.
Mr Joseph said most of the rain fell between 6am and 10am and there was some flooding after the storm passed, but communications systems were coming back on around midday yesterday.
Mr Joseph also said the local Government had started pouring supplies into Barbuda and encouraged anyone who wanted to evacuate the island to go to Antigua.
Bermudian Von-Rica Dickenson, who lives in Charlestown, the capital of Nevis, said the area had not been affected by the storm, but that people were bracing for Hurricane Jose.
She added: “We are fine, we are dry. We didn’t even have flooding or mudslides or anything like that.”
Ms Dickenson, who has lived in Nevis since 2012, said she had not heard any reports of damage. She added some stores opened yesterday morning and “everybody was functioning as normal”.
Irma was forecast to continue westward between Cuba and the Bahamas through today — with a likely advance on southern Florida around tomorrow afternoon.
The Caribbean-wide insurance risk insurance fund CCFIF SPC, to which Bermuda contributes, yesterday said it had earmarked $15.6 million for payments to Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, St Kitts and Nevis.
The group said further payments on excess rainfall policies would be looked at over the next few days.
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