South African family’s hurricane nightmare
A FORMER Durban family are counting their blessings after surviving two hurricanes in the space of two weeks, in their new home town of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.
Having endured Irma, Philip Mostert and his family, who had to lock themselves for nine hours in a bathroom until the hurricane’s devastating effects had subsided, thought the worst was over.
But then they had to face Hurricane Maria while staying at a refuge camp they had relocated to. He’s grateful that he and his family were once again unharmed.
In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Tribune, Mostert said at least Hurricane Maria found them prepared, unlike Irma, which destroyed their home and left them with only the clothes on their backs.
He said after the blows of both of the hurricane, the island was no different to historical images of World War II.
“It looked like the Hiroshima bombing in Japan. It resembled a war zone. Hurricane Irma was the biggest storm in the history of humankind.
“We are grateful that we made it unscathed. But people here are sticking together and have started to pick up the pieces,” he said.
Mostert, 41, praised his family for taking instructions without complaint, while battling Irma.
His 18-year-old son Bradley and daughter Jade, 12, held onto the door for hours until the hinges broke away. His wife Natasha, 43, held tightly the bathroom cupboard which threatened to fall on them.
“The winds were relentless, at some point we thought it was over for us, but we held on throughout the storm. We had our passports ready, but they were swept away, along with our cellphones.
“It was a traumatic experience. What was left of our home was loaded with debris inside, including some of our neighbours’ possessions. We found their kettle jug inside our cupboard and many other items lying around the house,” he said.
Because of the havoc wreaked by Irma, Mostert said the government had ordered a curfew for families to stay indoors. But Mostert, an information technology specialist, had a special concession because of the consultative work he did for government.
He said there were many affected South African citizens working in the Caribbean islands.
Mostert said he preferred to live on the islands and face hurricanes than deal with the crime in his old home in Queensburgh, Durban, which was burgled three times.
“I would rather face the unknown disaster than face an AK47 back home where I know my family is not safe. My car was also hijacked at gunpoint. As we speak, people are being raped, hijacked and killed,” Mostert said.
He said he relocated after he could not find work.
A view of buildings partially destroyed by Irma in the French Caribbean island of St Martin.