Hurricane Irma Aftermath Takes Huge Toll On People & Places In The BVIs
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Travel Blogger
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, the people in the Virgin Islands are quite literally picking up the pieces from the devastation that has hammered the islands.
The owner of Myett’s at Cane Garden Bay, one of the most popular bars (with a hotel) in the British Virgin Islands, isn’t sure if things will ever be the same again in the BVIs. Here is a full interview with Val Rhymer of Myett’s.
By fortunate circumstance, she was not at Myett’s during when Irma hit the the islands.
Q.) How damaged is Myett’s?
A.) I don’t really know for sure. There have been no evaluations done. I’ve only seen the pictures.
Look at my Facebook page Myett’s Cane Garden Bay. The entire island is devastated. I’ve also lost my two homes due to the magnitude of destruction this hurricane caused. I have reached out to get emergency supplies to my husband and his family and employees and their families who many of them are also homeless.
I have set up a relief fund www.gofundme.com/myetts-green-team-hurricane-relief – and I am also raising funds to buy airline tickets for them so they can get out of there. Many employees are from other islands in the Caribbean that were not affected. They have children that have been traumatized and all the schools are severely damaged.
Q.) How long will take to start to get back to normal?
A.) I don’t know for sure but from the looks of things it will never be back to normal. It’s all unclear at the moment.
Q.) How many people does Myett’s employ (seasonal and full-time)?
A.) We have 62 employees. We also have another business that got damage on the other side of the island.
Q.) What is the damage like on the rest of the islands?
A.) The news I’ve gotten from government officials via Facebook is 85% of structures are damaged.
Q.). How many people were able to evacuate the BVIs?
A.) I don’t know, but not many. The communications are very sketchy. They have no power, and very limited wifi. If I would have been there I would not have evacuated. Most people who live on islands just prepare. This was a Cat 5 record-breaking storm. No one expected it would be so bad.
Q.) Have you ever evacuated before?
A.) No, and I’ve been through many (hurricanes).
Q.) When/why did you decide to evacuate and head to Florida this time?
A.) I didn’t evacuate. I was here to celebrate my Mother’s 80th birthday. I came up on the 16th and I was planning to leave on the 11th.
Q.) Where were you in Florida when Irma hit? Did you get a lot of damage?
A.) I was at my daughters home in Dade City (east of Tampa and south of Orlando) with the rest of my family. We are all fine. There’s very little damage here for us.
Q.) How have you kept up on what’s been happening in Tortola? How did it feel fist seeing the footage of the destruction?
A.) Watching the news. I’ve have one call from my husband and some of my employees have been able to use What’s App to me to keep me updated when they get wifi. There is limited wifi in certain areas of the island but it comes and goes.
I am heartbroken and saddened but thank God that they survived. They are all very shaken and some as they have immensely traumatic situation. They feared for life.
Q.) How does it feel to see Florida get attention while most of the Caribbean is ignored?
A.) Not good. I am doing everything I can to bring exposure. I am reaching out to all our customers and friends. We have more than 5,000 Facebook friends and they are sharing the news and donating to our relief fund.
Q.) You are raising money through crowdfunding. Where will it go first?
A.) To send needed urgent supplies. I am sending a container via Tropical shipping in Miami. And, also to buy airline tickets for those who need to leave and do not have the means. I am asking for concerned people to adapt a child and fund a ticket.
Q.) How long have you lived in the BVIs?
A.) I was employed by The Moorings, the worlds largest yacht chartering company, in 1982. Their cooperate office is in Clearwater, Florida and they have a base in Tortola. I went back and forth for 10 years working at both locations. I was a yacht sales representative.
I fell in love with the BVI’s the first time I went there. I moved there in 1992 and opened our business, Myett’s which is a small hotel, restaurant, gift shop & spa.