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Breaking News:

Bahamians in TCI recall Irma nightmare

  • According to AccuWeather Meteorologist Jordan Root, the Turks and Caicos Islands experienced some of the worst conditions from the storm.

SLOAN SMITH
Guardian Staff Reporter
sloan@nasguard.com

Published: Sep 12, 2017

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While many in The Bahamas are relieved that the majority of the country was spared Hurricane Irma’s wrath, some Bahamians residing in the nearby Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), described a nightmarish ordeal during the storm’s passage and a traumatizing aftermath.

“The damage is really bad and a lot of communities are completely damaged,” said

Anni Worrell, a mother of one, who now lives in Providenciales. She said the passage of the storm was the most intense 13 hours of her life.

“Luckily, I only had flooding and minor damage in the place where I stayed.

“Based on previous experiences, I ensured that we were prepared with food and electronics, so that was okay.

“The storm itself was crazy, a lot of wind and very aggressive.”

Hurricane Irma hit the islands Thursday night into Friday morning.

According to AccuWeather Meteorologist Jordan Root, the islands experienced some of the worst conditions from the storm, with winds in excess of 150 mph and a dangerous storm surge.

The eye of the hurricane passed over the southern part of the islands, with South Caicos being the hardest hit.

Despite attempts to reach out to Bahamians in South Caicos, there was no phone service available up to yesterday.

Andrea Bassett, also a resident in Providenciales, said, “Communication with some of the family islands have still not been established and so you can imagine the worry.

“We are in Providenciales and by all accounts we are okay, but places like South Caicos, where 75 percent of roofs have been ripped off [are not],” she said.

“I haven’t even heard from my mother yet.

“I don’t even know who is with her. I don’t know none of this.”

A state of emergency has been declared in South Caicos.

Bassett said since the storm has passed she has just been trying to take it one day at a time.

“I don’t think I‘ll forget this experience for the rest of my life,” she said.

“I think I have a bit of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).”

She paused and inhaled deeply as she began to recall her harrowing experience.

“The wind sounded like a jet was right outside our front door, or like the propeller of a really, really, big, massive plane was grinding at your front door,” she said, struggling to find the words to describe the sound.

She said her family, including her husband, her nanny, and three children, a four-year-old, a seven-year-old, and a 14-year-old, were secured in the master bedroom at the back of the house.

“You could hear things slamming, slamming, slamming, and at one point when my husband got up to check around the house to see if we had any leaks and you could feel, like, the house shaking,” she said.

This was when her husband realized that a sheet of plywood was blown off the window, so he went outside through the back door to try secure it.

However, no sooner did he finally manage to secure it and come back inside that another plywood detached from another window.

While trying to secure that window, a piece of wood blowing in the wind hit him, so he now has a big cut along his back and a gash on his elbow, Bassett noted.

But, when he got back inside, the front door was blown open and the wind was gushing inside the house.

“It had already sounded like it was coming unhinged,” she said.

“I grabbed [the children] and we went into my bedroom closet and my daughter along with my nanny and husband battled the door.”

Bassett said her husband had to nail a piece of wood across the door and they had to push the sofa bed against it, in order to keep it closed.

“At that point we were like, ‘How many more hours of this, how many more hours?’” she asked.

“We stayed in the closet until they could get the door secured.

“But that was like 45 minutes.”

Bassett said it was the longest 45 minutes of her life.

“I was a wreck,” she recalled.

“...I was balling my eyes out and trying to keep two kids calm at the same time.

“Meanwhile, I’ve got my foot against the closet door to keep it closed. It was like rattling and shaking from all of the wind that was coming straight through my house.”

Basset said her husband, who is a trained engineer, feared that had too much wind gotten inside the house, it would have raised the roof.

“It wasn’t a matter of not to go outside. He didn’t have a choice, or we would have lost a lot more if he did not,” she said.

Once the storm settled and they were able to assess the damage, they found that there was extensive damage to the sheetrock inside, the roof and the railing outside.

But she said compared to the rest of the community, her family got off light.

“When we were able to go, all of a sudden my roof and my couple leaks just felt like I will not complain because of what I have seen in terms of roofs totally ripped off like something just picked it up and rested it on the ground, or the ones that got shredded and there was just debris everywhere,” she said.

“It was like trying to maneuver your way through poles and downed lines. It was quite a sight to see.”

She said she felt like she was in a dream.

Bassett said yesterday evening she dropped her husband to the boat to South Caicos to check on their family there.

She said she knows she will not hear from him for the rest of the night because of the lack of phone service.

She encouraged all her friends and family and anyone else willing to help those who have lost everything in Turks and Caicos to mobilize immediately.

She said the loss was great and the need is greater.

 

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