Pair’s hol­i­day hell as Irma hit Cuba


Manchester Evening News - - NEWS - By PAUL BRIT­TON paul.brit­ @PaulBrit­tonMEN

TWO young Team GB ath­letes had to shel­ter from Hur­ri­cane Irma in a ho­tel room in Cuba with six other peo­ple for 48 hours.

High jumper Emily Borth­wick, 20, and her pole vaulter boyfriend Harry Cop­pell, 21, a for­mer world youth cham­pion, had only cheese and ham sand­wiches to eat and a litre-and-a-half of wa­ter to drink.

The cou­ple, from Wi­gan, who were on a two-week hol­i­day to re­lax af­ter the athletics sea­son, were evac­u­ated from their idyl­lic re­sort in Cayo Santa Maria to an­other ho­tel in Va­radero fur­ther up the coast as Irma closed in.

Emily said their room flooded and to­gether, the eight of them put mat­tresses up against the win­dow to pre­vent glass smash­ing. Harry slept on the floor and Emily slept on the floor of the bath­room.

The cou­ple spoke of their hor­ren­dous or­deal as they ar­rived back at Manch­ester Air­port along­side hun­dreds of other pas­sen­gers who were caught up in the deadly storm.

Par­ents waited anx­iously at the ar­rivals lounge at Ter­mi­nal Two and raced to hug their loved ones.

Emily told how her par­ents were send­ing them over ad­vice and up­dates on Irma via text mes­sages.

The hur­ri­cane bat­tered Cuba, leav­ing an es­ti­mated 10 peo­ple dead, be­fore go­ing on to wreak havoc in Florida in the US.

Emily said: “The wind was howl­ing when we were locked in the room and the apart­ments were like con­crete blocks. It looked like a prison.

“We were told later that there was no way to get to our orig­i­nal re­sort any more. It was just aw­ful.”

Harry added: “It was scary to sit through. What an­noyed us was that other peo­ple trav­el­ling with dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies were flown home from Cuba. That re­ally an­noyed us.

“We ar­rived in Va­radero last Thurs­day and were told that we were go­ing to be safe. We were told that it would be a trop­i­cal storm. We had a meet­ing on the Fri­day and they said that from that night, we had to stay in our rooms - 48 hours in a room.

“We ended up shar­ing with six oth­ers be­cause we thought it would pass the time quicker. We woke up one morn­ing to a cou­ple of inches of wa­ter in the room. We only had one­and-a-half litres of fresh wa­ter and ham and cheese sand­wiches.”

The UK re­lief ef­fort to help Caribbean com­mu­ni­ties has been given ex­tra fund­ing as Theresa May de­fended her gov­ern­ment against ac­cu­sa­tions it re­acted too slowly.

Emily Borth­wick and Harry Cop­pell, back in Bri­tain

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