Stranded British expat on BVI reports anarchy and violence

Published:  14 Sep at 6 PM
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A British marine engineer stranded in the British Virgin Islands is telling the situation as it is, stressing no-one is on the streets without a weapon.

Leo Whitting’s partner Claudia Knight left the couple’s family home in Tortola for the UK before the hurricane struck, mostly to ensure their two-year old daughter’s safety. After seeing the appalling photos of the region and hearing about the storm’s awesome power, she was convinced Leo was dead, and was vastly relieved when he managed to contact her briefly by phone. He told her machine-gun toting military were everywhere, and survivors of the storm weren’t going onto the streets without weapons for protection. ‘Everyone’s turned feral’ he said, adding ‘I’m alive – Tortola isn’t’.

Tortola’s prison was badly damaged by the hurricane, allowing all the prisoners to escape, loot gun stores and start a wave of crime and violence on the shattered island. Survivors are afraid to leave their homes, and those who do are carrying guns or knives. The couple’s home and Claudia’s art school business were wrecked, along with almost every other building in the area, leaving them with no way to continue their lives on the island they love.

Even so, Claudia told reporters they both want to go back and eventually rebuild – starting again after four years of living on the island. Leo told her evacuations were beginning, but those wanting to leave quickly were being forced to pay through the nose for the privilege. He’s expecting to be able to get back to the UK in the very near future, with Claudia stating the British government should do a great deal more to help British expats caught up in the disaster.

Many of the Caribbean island chains have been totally devastated by the storm, as it passed directly overhead before veering off to the west and sparing Miami from its full fury. The costs of restoring the region to its full beauty is incalculable, so much so that no government involved has dared estimate the full amount.
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