The ordeal is over for 12 Barbadians who earlier this evening touched down at Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) on a Regional Security System transport plane, having been evacuated from the British Virgin Islands where they had been trapped since Hurricane Irma devastated the British territory a week ago with winds of185 miles per hour.
Among them was Glenna Smith, who yesterday appeal to the authorities here through Barbados TODAY to “send a gosh darn plane already”, to rescue her and her husband Romeo Addison, who had joined her for a bit of recreation at the end of a business trip which began two Saturdays ago.
Today, however, she was elated to be back on home soil.
“The British Army today is who we dealt with the whole time and they were just phenomenal. They were efficient, they got us out, they took care of us . . . they made sure we were safe,” Glenna said, as her husband shook his head in agreement.
“Some people that are here do not really understand the destruction down there. Loads of buildings have been destroyed. People are not going to have jobs, they’ve lost their homes, their boats, everything. We that actually had a chance to leave the island are very lucky. I am very happy to be home and I won’t be leaving the island for a while,” the husband added.
Shortly after 5:30 p.m. Denise Akoto walked out of the GAIA arrivals hall, accompanied by family members and an official from the British high commission in Bridgetown.
“I am really relieved. To leave that place was actually quite heartbreaking, but now that I am back home, I am . . . at ease,” she told Barbados TODAY.
Akoto had been on a ten-day holiday when Irma struck. She had never experienced a hurricane before, so she was quite excited at first.
By the time the storm began to unleash its fury, her excitement had turned to horror, she explained.
“It did damage a few windows inside the house and everything and before it was over the second wave came and it was just horrific. All the boards that we used to block up the windows came off. It was horrific.”
Tears flowed, but there were plenty smiles and much laughter as Marva Moffie, a Crab Hill, St Lucy resident, along with her daughter Dominique McDonald, emerged and embraced family members.
Nine-year old Dominique, whose birthday fell the day after the passage of the storm, told Barbados TODAY it was a harrowing experience, which she hoped never to go through again.
“I thank God for life because right now, I could have ended up with Irma wherever she has now ended up,” the child said.
She said her parents had converted the laundry room of their apartment into a makeshift safe room and this was where they rode out the cyclone.
“The trees . . . looked as though they were burnt down, houses were flat and altogether our part of the apartment was the worst. Bare glass was all over there, water on the ground . . . all I was saying [throughout it all] was that I hope my friends were okay. The majority of my friends live in the east end and that is where have some of the worst damage. I feel for them right now.”
Six Roads, St Philip resident Sheena Bancroft said she had an equally terrifying experience, as she rode out the storm crouching in a bathroom with a friend.
“It was horrible. Water coming in, winds at 180 miles per hour . . .it sounded like someone was angrily crashing and throwing everything around in the house,” she recounted.
Surrounded by family members, Bancroft said she intended to relax, take a shower, and enjoy an ice-cold beer.
Another Barbadian holidaymaker stranded by the storm, this time in St Maarten, made it home yesterday, relieved to escape the “nightmare”.
The woman, who requested anonymity, told Barbados TODAY what began as a week-long holiday on September 2 quickly became “a horrible experience”.
On learning of the impending storm she attempted to change her flight and return home, but it was too late.
With no way out of the Dutch territory, she buckled down with friends and prepared for the category five hurricane.
“I’m normally calm but when I saw the galvanize come off . . . that’s when I really started to get scared. I tell myself this like it’s the end. The building started to shake and the wind was so strong . . . the sea started to rage, and they have something like a river and the two met and because of that the water started to rise pretty high and cover a lot of homes and we had to be pushing out the water as soon as it started to come in.”
The woman, who eventually got out yesterday, said despite the horror her holiday was not ruined because she was able to assist her friends and others who were affected by the storm.
Meanwhile, petroleum giant Sol Caribbean has joined the relief efforts in Anguilla, the BVI and St Maarten.
The company said it was providing supplies for its staff, and the recovery effort in those countries.