A scene of Irma’s devastation: Anguilla, my home

There is enormous devastation here. Most of the telephone poles are down, roads are blocked, lots of trees uprooted. Many houses have lost roofs, including mine. Part of my house has a galvanised roof and most of these have blown off. Some buildings have totally collapsed. Across the whole island, electricity is off completely.

We have lost some of our schools. I have not yet had a chance to assess the situation. I’ve been told that many schools are damaged and that the secondary school has been hit: with roofs blowing off and windows blowing out you can just imagine what that’s like.

A view of a town after the hurricane.
UNICEF ECA/2017/ConnorMore effects of Hurricane Irma

We will not be able to start again for a long time. There’s a lot of structural damage and resources needed. We have to get together and assess the destruction and figure out a way forward.

On a personal level, we are dealing with the damage to my own house. I have a lot of stuff that’s wet and I’m trying to save what I can. But at least we’re alive. It could have been worse. It was scary, really, really scary sitting waiting for the storm. Everyone was talking about it, about the seriousness of this hurricane and whether we could withstand it. There was quite a bit of preparation. I don’t think there was anything else that could have been done.

It was just a severe hurricane. I mean, containers were hoisted and moved, flying through the air, lots of cars overturned or on top of each other. It was awful. The trees, what’s left of them, are just bare stems and they’re blackened as if they’ve been in a fire.

When I look out the window I can see telephone poles down, two boats have overturned. There’s a container in the yard of the church and the roof of this church has been blown off. Lots of lines are down here, to my left I can see plenty of galvanised metal… and I can see a roof right in front of me.

I’m glad it’s over but I’m sort of worried as I’m wondering how we are going to survive this with all the infrastructural damage that was done and with the economy as it is. And now we have a lot of people who are homeless.

A woman stands in a pile of rubble.
UNICEF ECA/2017/ConnorThe author standing in the Irma after-effects.

We will need some financial aid, definitely. One of the first things is to restore electricity, many people are crying out for that. We need to clear the debris and we need technical assistance.

Everybody is lamenting. We are relieved to be alive, but still there is a sense of hopelessness and helplessness.

Rhonda Connor, Chief Education Officer UNICEF Eastern Caribbean from Anguilla.

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