Weʼve raised £1,620 to Help a family with young children to rebuild their lives after losing everything during Hurricane Irma in Tortola, British Virgin Islands.
- Northampton, United Kingdom
- Funded on Sunday, 12th November 2017
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Hurricane Irma and Storm José tore through the Caribbean last week, causing widespread devastation. The urgency to evacuate UK nationals resident in BVI cannot be underestimated: people have lost everything.
Claire and Royden have worked in the BVI tourism industry for years and have lived together building a life in Tortola since 2009. The couple have two children: Tyler, 4 and Rosie who is 2. Royden’s sisters Ronette and Stacey also live on Tortola: working in nursing and the construction industry.
The family lived on Soldier Hill, Tortola BVI. Their apartment was in the ground floor of a two-storey building with another family living above. The house was well constructed. In what should have been Tyler’s first week of school, the couple boarded up the building as best as possible, packed emergency bags and waited for Hurricane Irma to strike, as the air pressure dropped and the wind and rain picked up.
On 6 September Hurricane Irma arrived over Tortola. As the winds grew stronger, the power went out, but the family still had internet for a time. Hearing the news of St Maarten having been 'flattened' was terrifying. The original safe room in the house was the children's bedroom at the back, and the family went in their, trying to shield the children about the news coming out of St Maarten. Claire and Royden pulled the children into a closet in case the front door blew in and towards them. Then the crash of glass as the window in the bedroom blew in, along with the hurricane shutters. Now furniture is flying across the room: the bedroom door ripped off its hinges and was flung into the room "like it was paper". Royden had to go out to see if anywhere is safer than the children's bedroom, and moves the family to the parent's bedroom closet. Completely terrified now, they heard the upstairs neighbours shouting, who then managed to reach Claire and Royden, bringing their 1 year old with them. At this point the rooms were secure but water was pouring in everywhere and the family had no idea of how long the storm would last. Both Claire and Royden thought the family were going to die in that closet.
With their belongings ruined they left to a more secure house after trees on the hill were cut and taken off the road so it was passable. The devastation has been widely reported but "unless you are there you cannot imagine how awful it is".
Predictably, power and communications were limited or non-existent in the immediate aftermath and it was over 48 hours before we had any word that Claire, Royden, Tyler and Rosie had survived. Other families are still waiting for news.
Claire and Royden were keen to continue to stay in Tortola and help to rebuild as Stacey and Ronette will do, but with no power, no water, limited food and drinking water and and two small children to keep safe, they decided they had no choice but to return to England. They have offered their house to someone who's house was more seriously damaged.
The urgency to evacuate those British nationals resident in the BVI must not be underestimated: as the situation becomes more desperate, they will put pressure on already limited island resources. It is clear the aid effort must be prioritised over commercial flights, but in the meantime private charter companies are quoting up to $22,000 for a flight from Tortola to Antigua (around 200 miles). Usually this trip would cost $300 per person. Meanwhile, flights returning holidaymakers from Antigua to back to the UK are leaving empty.
The family has managed to evacuate Claire, Royden and the children to Antigua and home to Devon, but others have been far less fortunate. Private individuals are assessing individuals’ needs and paying for charters and safe passage with their own funds.
Claire, Royden and their children returned to the UK with nothing except their passports and the clothes they stood up in. They are traumatised and staying with a family member in a small 1 bed flat.
Anything that we can do for this family will make a huge difference to them finding their feet once again and putting smiles back on the children’s faces.
The family also wishes to help others evacuate and come home from BVI.
FAMILY UPDATE - October 16th 2017
Myself, Royden, Tyler and Rose are eternally grateful to everyone for their generosity to help us rebuild our lives. After being literally blown out of our home in the BVI we are extremely thankful that we are safe and currently back in the UK for the time being. It's been over a month now since hurricane Irma ravaged the BVI and we, aswell as thousands of others are now trying to come to terms with and process what has happened, and where and how we go from here. we're still not out of the worst of it. Emotions change daily along with the worry of how we are going to get by financially and start putting things back together. We are remaining strong and have love in our family unit that helps all of us deal with our emotions. Tyler talks about the 'storm' reguarly and aside from the odd nightmare both him and Rose seem to be coming to terms with our new situation. The next immediate step is Royden going back to the BVI at the end of October to help rebuild the company he works for, fix our home and help other friends still needing to secure their homes. With this brings another range of emotions to add to our mix.
Having a just giving page is something we never thought we would need in our lives and are very grateful to our friends for setting it up.. right now every penny counts and money received is going towards securing accommodation for myself, Tyler and Rose to be able to remain in the UK, until such time we feel it is right to go home. To be able to secure a generator for Royden in the BVI so he can have power, living conditions are still far from perfect there right now and to assist us in clean up and replacement of items damaged from the storm. Having 225mph winds and rain through the house has meant that a lot of the necessary items need replacing, sadly, Tyler and Rose's room bore the brunt of it.
Hurricane Irma did not just affect us though and if we are able to meet our target and exceed it, any funds over our target we will be donating to Rose's preschool and Tyler's Primary School in the BVI to help them to rebuild, repair and replace items.
We and the people of the BVI remain positive and remember... The greater your storm, The brighter your rainbow'. Much love to everyone who has helped us on our time of need.
- 1 year ago
Edward Lacey and Lizzie Pike1 year ago
Please see the latest update (Oct 16th 2017) from Claire and her family in the text section of the main page. Thanks once again for all your support.
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Edward Lacey and Lizzie Pike started crowdfunding
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Nov 8, 2017
Oct 27, 2017
Oct 26, 2017
Hope this is of help to you Claire, Royden and family! Hope you're all OK and at least enjoying your time in the UK. X
Ginny and Tim
Oct 24, 2017
Good luck Claire and Royden. We were so sorry for all the troubles you have been through. Hopefully you will be reunited soon xxxxxxx
Oct 22, 2017
I can't donate much at the moment Claire, but just wanted you to know, I'm thinking of you and your family, and wishing you well as you enter this new era in your lives. xoxox
Oct 22, 2017
Hey chikka! Big love to you and Family! ✌️❤️
Oct 20, 2017
Thinking of you.
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About the fundraiser
Edward Lacey and Lizzie Pike
Northampton, United Kingdom
We have known Claire for 10 years having sailing with her to and in the Caribbean. She has worked and lived in the Virgin Islands with her family and calls it home. A wonderful person with a young family, we will do whatever we can to help them and other BVI residents in need.