- Written by FREEMAN ROGERS
- Published: 29 September 2017
The day after Hurricane Irma ravaged the territory, Egbert Donovan noticed that several of his Carrot Bay neighbours had started sharing fruits that had blown off trees in their yards.
“I was pleased to see that was taking place,” Mr. Donovan said on Sunday as he looked off the porch above his North Shore Shell Museum. “So nobody got left out; everybody had something to eat.”
This community spirit has sustained Carrot Bay and other small villages on western Tortola in the aftermath of Irma, several residents said.
On Sunday, a small crowd of churchgoers gathered at the Coal Pot restaurant, which became a hub for Carrot Bay residents after First District Representative Andrew Fahie came looking for a place to distribute relief supplies provided by Little Thatch Island owner Curt Richardson and the United States-based charity Convoy of Hope.
“I said use my building,” said Evelyn Dawson, who opened the restaurant’s new location in July only to see its interior gutted by waves during Irma. “It’s here; it’s out of the sun; the office is okay.”
Soon Ms. Dawson and other residents had formed a committee to manage a community relief effort.
“Whenever supplies come we would meet and discuss,” she said, adding, “We come together and we package the food whenever we get food. We deliver to seniors, because they can’t come out.”
As she talked, residents dressed in their Sunday best walked through the spacious former dining room and picked up pallets of bottled water.
“I would appeal to people to send stuff for the people that can’t make it,” Ms. Dawson said. “There’s quite a number of people that lost their home — everything. Some with children, some are seniors.”
Ms. Dawson herself survived a harrowing escape to a neighbour’s house as waves began to flood her own home.
“I have no recollection of how I got to his house,” she said. “All I know is when I looked back I saw the waves crashing over Rosie [Dawson’s] house. And that was more than 25 feet high.”
Her oceanfront restaurant remains structurally sound, but most everything inside was lost.
“Irma was bigger than anything,” Ms. Dawson said. “She basically just sucked everything out. Water was in here — just flushed straight through the kitchen, through the back door.”
Over the hill in Apple Bay, residents have been holding community meetings in the courtyard of Sebastian’s on the Beach, whose oceanfront rooms were devastated by the storm.
“We doing pretty good,” mechanic Khoy Turnbull, who lives across the street from the hotel, said of the area. “We’re getting supplies, so we’re getting by slowly but surely.”
Nick Brathwaite, a dock helper at The Moorings, spoke similarly as he used a wheelbarrow to transport trash from his mother’s home to a community burn pit that residents have been using to dispose of their trash.
“I’m actually not doing too bad,” he said. “I’m just helping my moms clean out her place.”
During the storm, he said, water entered the second-storey building, and he had to hold his young brother up to protect him from the sea.
Alphonso Barry, who was also loading rubbish into the burn pit, said his guesthouse made it through the storm largely unscathed.
“We’re doing okay, except that we’re just waiting for a backhoe or HiMac and truck to move the galvanised sheeting, the heavy tree trunks,” said the taxi driver. “It can’t be lift by hand.”
He added that the road toward Carrot Bay — which was dramatically eaten away by the storm near where the Bomba Shack has been reduced to a few wooden polls — needs work urgently.
On the other side of the mountain, relief supplies are distributed regularly at the West End Police Station, which is functioning in spite of extensive storm damage.
But not everyone has needed help. At his house on the Sir Francis Drake Channel, Fransyn Blyden said he has been fortunate enough to be able to fix his own roof and get by with help from friends and family members.
“We fixed it yesterday and the day before,” he said as he prepared to go for a boat ride. “We’ve been working since the storm; we’ve been working, working, working. So now, thank God, the boats are good so we gonna take a little breeze out now.”