Travel and Vacation Forums >> British Virgin Islands

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Joined: 03/09/06
Posts: 380
      #1745825 - 09/13/17 07:11 PM (

Chuck's daily update -
The Willy-T has been lost.
Iím inserting a dramatic pause here to let the gravity of that statement sink in.
Now, on to todayís update, which is a landmark one because this is the one-week anniversary of Irmaís little gift to the BVI. Last Wednesday at this time, the winds were just starting to kick up. By 9:00am, we had tropical force winds and we were still outside, on ladders, with battery-powered drills, in a last-ditch effort to shore up any potential weak spots as the wind increased. By 9:30am, those efforts were no longer possible and we all retreated inside. By 10:00am, we had hurricane force winds. By 11:30am, winds were up to 185mph and they sustained at that intensity, with gusts to 225mph. Water started flowing strongly under the doors and through electrical fixtures in the concrete. At that point, we didnít know what was going to happen next and if we would have to move from our safe room. As bad as it was, we didnít know if it could get even worse. At 12:40pm, we entered the eye. We cleared shutters and debris from our door and got to an inner hallway in the house to peer outside. From there, we saw 40í waves crashing to the shore below. To my South, up Little Mountain hill, the old Governorís mansion was in reasonable shape, but had lost part of its roof. At about 1:40pm, the storm resumed, but this time the winds were from the opposite direction. By 4:30pm, things had calmed down to the point we could walk around and try to find other survivors. I looked up the hill and the Governorís mansion was toast. All the homes I could see were destroyed or heavily damaged. Itís hard to believe a week has already passed.
Since then, Iíve tried to post every day at a neighborís house on the other side of Little Mountain hill in my neighborhood. He has a generator and, somehow, kept a wired Internet connection through the storm even though all the poles are down (???). To ration diesel, he turns on the generator only a few hours per day and the Internet is very slow, but itís been reliable. To get there, I must walk over the hill through downed trees and telephone poles and a tangle of electrical and phone wires. The road is still not clear to my house and driveway. Itís a difficult journey through the brush, even though itís no more than a quarter mile.
Iíve seen it reported that 4K people in the BVI are still missing. I suspect the vast majority of these people are OK, but without reliable communications, itís really hard to find people. Lack of good communications remains a huge issue. Cell service is being restored slowly and methodically, but hasnít gotten to me yet. I understand a contingent will be arriving today with Sat phones that can provide WiFi. That will be great, if it works. Other people who have Sat phones have had inconsistent links. While aid is arriving, there has been no coordinated communication yet to let people know where to go. Some people are even running out of water and donít know the location of aid.
The big episodes of looting ended when the first troops arrived and things came quickly under control, but I wish I could say the properties are now all safe. The prisoners are all still free and some people are still going into abandoned homes and rifling through things. Even as more and more police arrive from other British territories to help out, it will be difficult to stop crime completely for a while. We continue to have a nightly curfew and I'm hoping that stays in place for a few weeks.
Besides the communication issue, getting people off this island is a huge priority. Thousands of people need to leave as soon as possible because the infrastructure canít support them. Only aid flights are coming and going and there are masses of people waiting for flights and boats. Lots of people are desperate to get out, by any means possible.
Thinking one step ahead, weíll need thousands of tradesmen to enter the territory to rebuild. Weíll also need thousands of staff for the rebuilt businesses, as they reopen, to replace the people who leave and donít come back. Iím praying the Government will streamline Immigration and Labor procedures to not let bureaucracy choke off our recovery.
My neighbor, who provides me this essential communication lifeline, is a smart international businessman who has seen the world. He is not one to exaggerate. He managed to get to Road Town yesterday and it was a sobering experience for him. He described the town as like a scene from war torn Syria. I would agree with that assessment. If youíre only seeing the pictures, you simply canít imagine what itís like here. In the States, when a disaster strikes Texas or Florida, there are highways. After the waters recede or the roads are cleared, crews can pour in from neighboring States and people can flow out. Here, itís a tiny island. Multiply the logistical difficulties by least 100X.
On a positive note, everyone has lost a lot of weight, theyíre looking much trimmer, and theyíre getting in their 10,000 steps of daily activity. Oh, and I wonít be getting any big electricity bills for a while. So I've got that going for me, which is nice.
If any of my Facebook friends have Hollywood connections, I think this would be a great location for next seasonís ďNaked and AfraidĒ or ďSurvivor: TortolaĒ

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Joined: 03/09/06
Posts: 380
Re: CHUCK'S BVI UPDATE. [Re: bvilovercgb]
      #1745828 - 09/13/17 07:24 PM (

Update 2
Another amazing update fro Chuck The big news in the BVI is that the fence is back up and the prison has been secured. Thereís a large military presence there and prisoners are either returning voluntarily or being captured. A notice was put out that prisoners had 24 hours to return on their own. I understand that guns and other weapons are being found in the cars and places of shelter of the ones that have been captured. With a secure prison and all the military transport flights that have come in over the past few days, there are enough soldiers here now to capture and guard the bad guys and effectively enforce the curfew everywhere. This is a HUGE step forward.
Again, while Iíve got a lot of my own problems to deal with, it appears the Command and Control system is working. If the BVI were an independent nation and we didnít have the British to coordinate everything, we would be in much, much worse shape.
I got a message yesterday that my cell company has restored some service in town, has overseas crews on-island to help, and will be working outwards from there. Iím hopeful Iíll be getting some cell service restored at my location within the next few days. On the communications link Iíve been using to send my reports, the Internet has slowed to a crawl in the last day as more people are able to access it. This morning, it was almost impossible to post on Facebook and I couldnít upload any pictures before the generator was shut down. Next to getting the island secure, getting reliable communications up is the next most important priority.
Garbage disposal services have also started to resume and many accessible dumpsters have been emptied. This is also huge news to control the rat problem. Water has been turned on in some areas, but this has exposed many broken pipes and water is shooting into the air in places. I have city water as a back-up to my cisterns, but itís not on yet at my house. When that comes back, it will also be an enormous step forward, because I will be able to flush toilets and clean throughout the livable areas, without having to lug buckets from my cistern. The net-net is that the pace of progress is increasing and Iím ďhopingĒ the big steps forward continue.
When we gather at the end of the day, we all share news of what weíve seen and learned during the day. I try to post the best information I have from the most reliable sources. I try to verify stories whenever possible. One quickly learns who has the facts and who exaggerates or just spreads gossip. #FakeNews.

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Joined: 01/03/09
Posts: 250
Loc: wethersfield,ct usa
Re: CHUCK'S BVI UPDATE. [Re: bvilovercgb]
      #1745832 - 09/13/17 07:55 PM (

Thanks for the update, it really helps to keep our sanity during this tragic situation. Everyone there is in our thoughts and prayers.

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Joined: 09/08/02
Posts: 3439
Loc: Worcester, U.K. and Spain
Re: CHUCK'S BVI UPDATE. [Re: bvilovercgb]
      #1745884 - 09/14/17 02:41 AM (

Excellent posts from both you and Chuck. It is really good to hear about the true situation on Tortola rather than just getting opinions from others that are thousands of miles away, like me!

Hope things continue to get better, quickly.


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Joined: 06/08/04
Posts: 321
Loc: ohio
Re: CHUCK'S BVI UPDATE. [Re: Jeannius]
      #1745887 - 09/14/17 04:41 AM (

Thank you for these updates. You and the rest of our friends from our beloved islands continue to be in my prayers everyday.

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Joined: 09/27/16
Posts: 16
Loc: Annapolis, Md
Re: CHUCK'S BVI UPDATE. [Re: bvilovercgb]
      #1745905 - 09/14/17 08:14 AM (

Hi Chuck- thank you for the updates-
Can you clarify on the Willie T? Is it sunk or maybe broke free and was blown out to sea?

Annapolis, Md

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Joined: 07/31/17
Posts: 31
Loc: Virginia, USA
Re: CHUCK'S BVI UPDATE. [Re: bviicatter]
      #1745908 - 09/14/17 08:19 AM (

I saw a picture that was said to be of the Willy T beached on shore.

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Joined: 05/08/06
Posts: 930
Loc: Winston Salem, NC
Re: CHUCK'S BVI UPDATE. [Re: bviicatter]
      #1745909 - 09/14/17 08:20 AM (

The Willie T is aground. Caribbean Buzz posted a photo of it on the beach.

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Joined: 09/18/10
Posts: 5428
Loc: Massachusetts
Re: CHUCK'S BVI UPDATE. [Re: lonewolf1977]
      #1745912 - 09/14/17 08:34 AM (

Yeah, I saw the Willy T picture. It is basically stripped of everything that was on the deck, aside from what I believe is the kitchen at the very bow. Barely recognizable.


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Joined: 04/02/13
Posts: 315
Re: CHUCK'S BVI UPDATE. [Re: maytrix]
      #1745930 - 09/14/17 09:03 AM (

Thanks for these updates.

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