Where Are We Going To Live? Shelter Residents Anxious As Evacuation Nears

Sherine Williams, Journalist | October 12, 2017 4:32 pm MDT
Photo Credit: Sherine Williams
The few residents who remain housed at the Multipurpose Sports Complex in Road Town, Tortola, are anxiously waiting to see where their new homes will be when the final date for evacuation arrives this Sunday, October 15.

The residents, who range from young babies to senior citizens, lost all or most of their homes and belongings when Hurricane Irma hit last month, and have living at the sporting facility ever since.

“That’s the date they say they are hoping to have everyone evacuated. People from Social Services came and asked us what we needed to rebuild our homes, but nobody came back to us and we just don’t know what is going to happen to us,” said 28 year-old Louisa, who lives at the shelter.

She lost her roof during Hurricane Irma and had to run out into the storm with her partner, their 4 year-old twins and 7-year-old son.

“My house was a wooden structure and it was blown away. I don’t have anywhere to go. I don’t care what they give me to start over, I just need somewhere to call home. I would be thankful for anything I can start with right now, cause I don't have nothing. I was a stay-at-home mom before so right now I have no job and no home,” Louisa said.

She then explained that her children’s father is now trying to rebuild their house that was flattened during Irma.

Louisa’s sentiments were echoed by a 34 year-old mother *Pam, who sat in a corner with one hand cradling her 4 month-old baby boy, who was fast asleep. She used her other hand to support her head as she stared into space.

*Pam, who fled her apartment before the hurricane hit, said she went back to find her home totally wrecked.

“Even some stuff like clothes and my matress that I left are gone. I know Irma didn’t take it. I don’t know if they were stolen, but they were not there when I returned,” said *Pam, who admitted that she has no idea what her next move will be.

“I was on maternity leave before the storm hit and I haven’t gone back to work as yet. I try to be in high spirits. It has been stressful because I don’t know what will happen next. I don’t know, I just don’t know,” she said with a smile.

As a few adults gathered to speak to BVI Platinum News, some small children playfully ran by, obviously looking for somewhere to play in a hall now being used as a common area by adults.

“They are happy here, they don’t know what’s going on. I try to be strong for my kids because I don’t want them to be sad,” Louisa said.

Over 300 people were in shelters after Hurricane Irma hit last month. The numbers have dwindled as many people left the BVI and returned to their homes countries, while others found shelter with relatives and friends.

Now, the DDM says fewer than 100 persons remain in shelters across the territory, as schools which were being used as shelters resumed teaching this week.

Residents Still Hopeful

While some residents continue to wait in anxiety, others at the Multipurpose Sports Complex expressed hope, stating that they believe the government will extend their stay if they don’t find homes by this Sunday.

“They can’t throw us out on the road, so I know they won’t ask everybody to leave this Sunday,” said one elderly man at the shelter.

“I will wait until the 15th to see what they are doing before I say anything else about that.. But right now all I can say is that they are taking care of us. The shelter manager is really nice, she looks out for everybody here, especially the elderly and she works really hard,” said Francine Noel, a high school teacher staying at the shelter.

The residents later praised the shelter manager for her good manners and helpful nature. However, our news team didn't get the chance to speak with her as the residents said she was out running errands.

The use of * represents name change requested by source
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