Monday 1 June, 2020

Not all Bajan children were untouched by Hurricane Irma

Dominique McDonald excitedly going to hug her aunt while her mother Marva Moffie is engulfed in a bear hug behind.

Dominique McDonald excitedly going to hug her aunt while her mother Marva Moffie is engulfed in a bear hug behind.

Three children were left shaken by the winds, rain and devastating impact of Hurricane Irma as it wreaked havoc on the island of Tortola.

When communication with loved ones went down for two children whose parents were on the island living and visiting, it was unbelievable, and for another child who was living in Tortola, the impact was most earth shattering.

Nine-year-old Dominique McDonald is a Barbadian but she has been living in Tortola with her parents for the past year and a couple months. Dominique was even enrolled in school there over in the East-End.

Thinking back to how it was when Irma made land on the small Caribbean island, Dominique said, “Thank God for the safe room.” She said that ahead of Irma her dad David had placed supplies, blankets and food in what was there old laundry room within their apartment and that was where she and her family huddled while riding the worse of Irma out.

Dominique said when Irma first came the shutters that her dad had bolted and nailed to the windows were flapping but the held and then she said it was calm. Mother Marva Moffie said that was around 8:00 am the morning when they thought it was over so they started to drop their guard and their fear, but then she got a call from her sister saying, “No, no Marva! Go back into hurricane mode.”

What they described may have been the passing of the eye, because next, what Irma brought, the family was not prepared for at all. After 11:00 am everything changed for the worse. David yelled for Dominique to get into the safe room and the shutters could not be held, they started to come lose and so Marva and David pulled the mattress, sofa and a 50-gallon container of water and tried to place them against the door of the safe room.

Inside the safe room, Marva said it sounded like someone was in the house and David kept saying “Marva, nobody is out there! Relax yuhself. Pray, pray, pray, just pray!” Dominique said she prayed and prayed and prayed so hard. Marva said all you could hear is “Brudda doom, plax plax, brugga doom, abd all this rolling thunder and whiteness in front yuh eyes.”

When the calm returned their apartment was in shambles. Broken glass everywhere; the house was inhabitable.

At that moment their downstairs neighbour came up and he said that they come downstairs by him and they gathered what they could and fled to safety.

Dominique said, “I wanted to experience a hurricane because it was my first time, but experiencing that it had me frightened, frightened, frightened…All I have to do is thank that safe room and thank God for life, because right now I would be with Irma wherever she is, missing my birthday.”

The little girl turned nine years old the day after Irma devastated Tortola. Irma made land fall on September 6, and Dominique celebrated her milestone on September 7, 2017.

Going downstairs to the neighbour's home she said that she automatically held her breath when she saw outside because "the trees looked like they got burned down, houses were flat and altogether our part of the apartment was the worse.”

Asked about her friends from school, she rubbed her hands up and down her arms hugging herself saying that she had heard the East-End was most badly impacted and that’s where many of her mates live.

“All I was saying, I was telling my mummy, I hope my friends are okay. Actually, almost all of my friends live in East-End and that is where they got the baddest so I feel for them right now.”

With persons talking about looting in the islands and damages to the prisons causing prisoners to be on the loose, Dominique said that after Irma life did not return to normal. She said when she and her mother went exploring the day after, a lady stopped her mom and said, “Get off the road! Prisoners out. They are raping and stuff… And I run my mother up the road because I was frightened, and as we stepped inside de house I say, ‘Mummy lock de doors, everything!’”

To her fellow Barbadians, with a big smile, Dominique said, “I so happy and glad that they didn’t experience it, and I’m very happy that I survived this storm to see my birthday. I’m happy.”

Lois Oliver said that her family is just so pleased and happy that her sister Sheena Bancroft is fine but none more so than Bancroft’s young daughter Ashley. Bancroft has been living and working for a year in Tortola while her toddler resides in Barbados with the rest of the family.  

Speaking to Loop yesterday, Oliver explained that Sheena’s daughter shocked the family when she asked about her mom’s situation following Hurricane Irma.

Oliver said, “Ashley is three and we thought she didn’t understand what is happening, but up to Friday she came to us and said, ‘Is my mummy lost? Did my mummy get blown away? Aunty what’s happening?’ So she’s picked up little bits and pieces and I can just imagine her face when she’s her mother this evening.”

Caption:Sheena Bancroft, Ashley's mother being greeted by family at the airport.

Bancroft is the baby of her mother’s three children. Oliver said that her sister is resilient and resourceful so she wasn’t concerned that she wouldn’t be able to make her way, “but these are very extenuating circumstances, so my concern was for her safety and her comfort.”

Meanwhile, 19-year-old Jason Whitney may be off the island but he too was happy to learn that his dad John Whitney was safely back on Barbados’ soil. John was vacationing on Tortola from March of this year. At the Grantley Adams International Airport, his fiancée Stacie Boyce told Loop, it has been “sleepless” nights since Irma hit that island, and his mother said, “Now I feel a little bit better than I felt days ago.” Family friend Rodney Reid, said that his one son Jason “is very excited to hear him.”

McDonald, Bancroft and Whitney were among the 12 persons who returned home with the British Military yesterday after successful efforts by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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