Hur­ri­cane sur­vivor re­calls af­ter­math of the storm

Loughborough Echo - - FRONT PAGE - By Liam Cole­man liam.cole­man@trin­i­tymir­

A LOUGH­BOR­OUGH res­i­dent who had his house dam­aged by Hur­ri­cane Irma and was forced to take shel­ter in his bath­room for two days while 190mph winds de­stroyed “ev­ery­thing in sight” has fi­nally re­turned home.

Skyler Shah, 26, of Deer Acre, Lough­bor­ough, flew out to Tor­tola in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands in April, and just a few months later found him­self in ‘sur­vival mode’ in the af­ter­math of a cat­e­gory five hur­ri­cane.

The psy­cho­log­i­cal coach told the Echo that he had just moved into a new house on the coast of Tor­tola three days be­fore the hur­ri­cane hit.

He was then forced to lock him­self in his bath­room and shower cu­bi­cle for two days, with only a small amount of food and wa­ter while the storm raged out­side.

He said that he had seen the weather re­ports and like the rest of the is­land he knew what was com­ing, but never ex­pected it to end in the tragedy that it did.

Skyler said: “The villa that I moved into was a lit­tle run down when I first moved out there but I was plan­ning on do­ing it up and mak­ing it my home.

“But then a week later Irma was on the way.

“The hur­ri­cane went from cat­e­gory two to cat­e­gory three within a mat­ter of hours, and then we were told that it was go­ing to be a cat­e­gory five which meant we barely had any time to pre­pare for it.”

He said that he boarded up the win­dows of the villa and parked his car out­side the bath­room win­dow for ex­tra pro­tec­tion.

He said that he put his mat­tress and bed frame up against the bath­room door to block­ade him­self in.

At around 4am on Wed­nes­day, Septem­ber 6, Skyler said this was when the hur­ri­cane was at its most de­struc­tive.

He said: “I could hear what was go­ing on out­side and al­though it was scary I felt well pre­pared and calm.

“Wa­ter did start to come in un­der the bath­room door and I was ul­ti­mately sleep­ing in a flood but I couldn’t do any­thing about it.”

He said he was trapped in the bath­room from Wed­nes­day un­til Fri­day.

Skyler said that even­tu­ally the hur­ri­cane started to die down, and that was when he went into ‘sur­vival mode.’

He said: “The first thing that I did af­ter the storm started to pass was make my­self a cof­fee. I had to do some­thing nor­mal be­cause it had been chaotic for the last two days. So I made my­self a cof­fee and then made a plan from there.

Skyler said that he couldn’t believe the wreck­age on the is­land af­ter the storm, he said: “Ev­ery­thing had been de­stroyed, houses had been blown away, my car had been blown away, it was hor­ren­dous.

“There was noth­ing left and I just didn’t know what to do.

“This was when I went into sur­vival mode and I knew that I had to try and get my­self home, or at least get a mes­sage back to my par­ents.

“My first pri­or­ity was to find a way of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and then my sec­ond was sur­vival.”

“I had to go into the town cen­tre to try and find more sup­port.”

And it was here that Skyler man­aged to send a satel­lite mes­sage to his fam­ily back in Lough- bor­ough to let them know that he was okay and that he was try­ing to get home.

Skyler said that he even­tu­ally man­aged to book a flight back to the UK a week later, but that he had to wait for three days in Tor­tola air­port be­cause so many peo­ple were try­ing to board planes and only a lim­ited amount of flights were head­ing off the is­land.

He said that he then flew to San Juan air­port in Ar­gentina, then onto Birm­ing­ham air­port via JFK in New York and Dublin, even­tu­ally ar­riv­ing back in Lough­bor­ough on Tues­day, Septem­ber 19.

On re­turn­ing to Lough­bor­ough, Skyler said: “I am pleased to be back home and feel safe, but it re­ally puts it all into per­spec­tive. Some of the prob­lems that peo­ple face back here are noth­ing in comparison to what peo­ple are go­ing through out on Tor­tola. I want to do all I can to help every­one that is still out there.

“I was lucky to be able to get back home and I con­sider my­self lucky to be alive, I could have died out there.

“It has been hard to get out of sur­vival mode, but I am try­ing to get back to nor­mal life now.”

Skyler told the Echo that he is now urg­ing any­one who can help re­build Tor­tola af­ter the de­struc­tion from Hur­ri­cane Irma to make a donation to www.vir­ com­mu­nity-sup­por­t­ap­peal

Pic­tured is Tor­tola in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands be­fore Hur­ri­can Irma struck.

Skyler’s home in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands af­ter Hur­ri­cane Irma struck.

Pic­tured is Skyler’s home in the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands af­ter Hur­ri­cane Irma struck.

Skyler Shah and his car that was de­stroyed by Hur­ri­cane Irma.

Skyler Shah.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.