Donna Ramtoole broke down in tears yesterday as she appealed to the Government to help bring home six members of her family, who are trapped in hurricane ravaged Tortola with little means of survival.
Among them, her parents Don and Susan Ramtoole originally from Barrackpore, her brother Dennis, Dennis’ wife, Jenny, a national of Santo Domingo and their two young children Dennis Jr and Davey. Don has been living and working in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, for over 20 years and Dennis a few years less. “I just want them to come home, because right now they don’t have anything. Dennis vehicle mash up, his place of employment mash up, the hurricane destroyed his home. He has nothing to fall back on,” she cried. She said when she spoke to her mother yesterday morning, Susan said she had two cases of water left and did not know how long it would last or when help would come.
To make matters worse, Donna said, survivors from the smaller islands have converged on Tortola which is the largest of the BVI’s and there is looting.
“People are fighting and scrambling for food. It is like a deserted island where you see something shining in the sand and every body rushing to get it.”
There is no power on the island, but her parents have been charging their phones in their vehicle, which managed to survive the devastation.
“My mother told me that a British Navy ship was on the channel and a helicopter was surveying the damage. She said she also understand that about seven boats were on the periphery of the island with food and relief supplies on board. She said one gas station and a supermarket has since reopened, but there is little stock.
“It is amazing to know that there are TT nationals who have been devastated by Hurricane Irma but nobody is doing anything to get them out. I don’t know if I did not read or hear about help being offered to identify citizens who have been affected, but help has not reached my family as yet.”
She said they cannot get out on their own because flights are not leaving the island, which is still impassable by roads, in many areas.
“They have no money either, as the physical structure of Scotiabank where they bank, has been flattened.”
The Ramtooles live in Kingston, about three miles away from the capital Road Town.
When Irma hit earlier in the week, all of the buildings were either flattened or the roofs, doors and windows blown off.
Communication has been difficult, but when Sunday Newsday spoke to Don on Thursday, he said they were sleeping on chairs and desks at the Cedar School, a private institution which threw opened its doors to hurricane victims.
At that time, he also said, they were bracing for Hurricane Jose, which has since shifted,
“Susan is sleeping on three chairs, I am sleeping on a table. Other people are leaning up on the wall and sleeping. We are in some distress but we are alive. We have no injuries. We have a little bit of food and what we cook, we are sharing it with others who have nothing.”
He explained that they live on the ground floor of a 15 apartment complex a short distance away from the sea.
“After eight hours of constant rain and wind, the roofs were blown off, and the water soaked through the concrete floor, soaking everything in our apartment. What the rain did not soak, the water from the sea, which rose to frightening levels, took care of the rest.
However, he said, there is a light at the end of every dark tunnel, pointing out that their stove survived the onslaught as well as some groceries. What has emerged, he said, is a great community of strangers who have formed a bond sharing what ever little they have and comforting each other. With reference to Irma, Don who will celebrate his 60th birthday on September 12, said in all of his years he has never experienced anything as frightening as this.
“This place is like a ghost town. There is not a leaf left on any of the trees that as still standing. I don’t know when Tortola will come back to life, But praise and thanks to God, we have life. As soon as we are able to, we will return home.”