By Sian Boyle for the Daily Mail 21:45 10 Sep 2017, updated 10:38 11 Sep 2017
Hurricane Irma has caused devastation across the Caribbean in the past week
Thousands of people are isolated on scattered islands with power lines down
Food and medicine are scarce, while scenes of looting and lawlessness are ‘rife’
Families say they have spent days wondering whether loved ones have survived
Have you been affected by Irma? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Britons stranded in the Caribbean by the killer hurricane have been abandoned by the Government, their distraught families said last night.
Thousands of people are isolated on scattered islands with phone and power lines down, roads blocked, food and medicine scarce, and scenes of looting and lawlessness ‘rife’.ADVERTISEMENT>
Their families say they have spent days in torment wondering whether their children, parents and siblings are dead or alive. And they have hit out at the Government for bringing aid relief too slowly and providing no information about their relatives.
Hurricane Irma has wreaked destruction across the Caribbean, including in the UK overseas territories of the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, Barbuda and Turks and Caicos.
As aid arrives on the ground and the clear-up effort begins, there are concerns the official death toll – currently at 25 – could rise into the hundreds or even thousands as the true scale of the devastation emerges.
Dr Annelise Lawton, who works in a hospital on Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, said conditions were ‘horrific’. ‘There is absolute devastation on the island,’ she added. ‘People will die. There’s no communication between [people] on the island... there are little pockets of people who have survived.’
She said none of the phones in the hospital was working, and that ‘people are just sat there without the equipment and supplies they need’.
- At least 32 looters are arrested across Florida during Irma crime spree: Thieves prompt SWAT standoff after robbing a store for GUNS while others are caught on camera breaking into a sports shop
- 'We just don't know how many are dead': 10,000 people who stayed in Florida Keys to brave Hurricane Irma 'now have no water, food or power' amid fears of a 'humanitarian crisis' - but deadly storm is now downgraded to Category One
- Torment of the hurricane Brits: Victims of Irma have been abandoned by their Government, say distraught relatives
She added: ‘All the roads are blocked with debris. People on the island are struggling to access medication. All the pharmacies have been obliterated. It’s just a mess.’
It came as:
- Irma continued on its destructive course and battered the western coast of Florida;
- The streets of Miami were 5ft under water and storm surges of up to 15ft hit the popular holiday destination of Naples last night;
- The Government sent 500 soldiers to the region, as well as 50 police officers to help deal with looting;
- Defence Secretary Michael Fallon defended the Government against accusations it had acted too slowly and inadequately, and insisted ‘our response has been as good as anyone else’s’;
- The US was braced for another two or three days of damage as the storm headed north through Florida and into Georgia.
People trying to find relatives in British territories have been using Facebook and social media groups set up through patchy internet connections.
One website set up by a Facebook group, the BVI Hurricane Irma Safety Check website, allows people to ‘check in’ and mark themselves as safe. Last night it had 3,036 people marked as ‘safe’, but 3,949 marked as ‘unknown’.
On Virgin Gorda, a smaller island in the archipelago, one British hotel manager has been missing since the storm struck on Wednesday.ADVERTISEMENT>
Amanda Whitlock, 49, said the only contact she’d had from her sister Caroline Whitlock-Henry, 50, in five days had been a five-second phone call. She spoke to Mrs Whitlock-Henry when she and her husband Marcus Henry, 40, were huddled in a concrete stairwell waiting for the eye of the storm to pass.
Since then, she said ‘we haven’t had any word, there’s just been no news – it’s unbelievable’.
Miss Whitlock added: ‘It was literally the words, “Hello, we’re okay”, and that was it.
‘I don’t even know whether she could hear us.’
She said when she called the Foreign Office helpline set up on Thursday, she had to spell ‘Virgin Gorda’ three times, because they didn’t have a list of the islands. She added: ‘Virgin Gorda needs to be evacuated.’
A British family in Tortola described how they survived being in the eye of the hurricane.
Sasha Joyce and her father, her husband Brendan and their children sheltered in her father’s house as the storm tore across the island. The adults lay on top of the children, aged two and four, to protect them.
When they emerged, the other rooms had been swept away, with only the room they had sheltered in still standing.
Miss Joyce’s cousin, Clare Parker, who lives in London, said: ‘When they came out, the eye of the tornado had ripped the concrete house apart.
‘They walked out of there alive, which is miraculous and we are so grateful for. They are feeling lucky to be alive.’
Elsewhere, a British couple have been hiding in a rat-infested bathroom with no water for five days as the island they were living on – St Maarten – descended into lawlessness.
Jos Smart, 26, and his girlfriend Julia Taylor, 30, say they have been abandoned by the Government and are too afraid to leave the half-destroyed hotel that they found refuge in, amid reports of looting and violence.
Ian Smart, Jos’s father, said: ‘They have not had any water for a day, they have got a bit of juice, but they are trying to keep under the radar.
‘They said the sounds were apocalyptic and they have likened it to a war zone. They are holed up in a half-demolished bathroom and their phone is running out of battery. They are in a bit of a state. There have been rats in their room looking for food.’
He added: ‘At night time there were people knocking on their door, and so there are 12 hours of sheer blackness to get through with the terror of who is going to knock down the door.’ Charlotte Grayson, whose father and siblings live on Tortola, said the Government’s response was ‘almost invisible’.ADVERTISEMENT>
Miss Grayson added: ‘Looting has been rife.’
The Government – which has a responsibility to provide military security and protection from natural disasters in its self-governing overseas territories – has sent 500 soldiers to the region, with 120 stationed in the British Virgin Islands.
Last night a further 50 police officers were sent to help deal with looting, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said, as he pledged to be there ‘in the long-term’ for British residents.
The Prime Minister announced last week that a £32 million relief fund would support the humanitarian effort. The Government has also pledged to double all public donations made to the British Red Cross appeal.>Resize
Radiuniverse Samsung S9 For Free
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4870922/amp/Brit-Irma-victims-abandoned-Government.html