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Devastation Everywhere on the British Virgin Islands

15-09-2017

The British Virgin Islands took a beating from Hurricane Irma, particularly Tort

The British Virgin Islands took a beating from Hurricane Irma, particularly Tortola, the main island of the 50-island chain, as well as Virgin Gorda and Jost Van Dyke.

The flat coral island of Anegada escaped unharmed as it was on the edge of the storm. Sharon Flax-Brutus, director of tourism, described the destruction in the BVI as "devastating."

"The destination lost entire structures. Homes are without roofs or diminished to merely foundations," she said.

Security and the distribution of aid are the main priorities of government, said Gov. Augustus Jaspert.

"Extra money has been provided by the U.K. to help with ongoing relief efforts, and additional forces are coming from the U.K. to bolster security forces," the governor said in a statement.

A curfew remains in effect from 6 p.m. to 9 a.m.

Premier Orlando Smith warned that it would take the tourism industry more time to recover. "Tourism is much more dependent on facilities in the BVI, and it will take time for us to be in a position to welcome tourists again," he told the online BVI Beacon.

The rebuilding process will be a major undertaking that will require outside assistance, especially from the U.K., according to Smith.

Some power has been restored in Road Town, the capital in Tortola, although it is spotty. Some banks and supermarkets have reopened. The tourist board office on Tortola is not yet back in operation.

Ports are open to receive food and supplies, and "we are hoping to open Beef Island Airport to commercial flights soon," Jaspert said.

The airport has been open to evacuate visitors and deliver relief supplies. Speedy's Ferry Services is operating three times daily between Virgin Gorda and Tortola.

The Moorings yacht charter company in Road Town had extensive damage to its fleet and marinas. All customers have been evacuated from Tortola and are returning home via Puerto Rico and Antigua, the Moorings said. The 2017 Interline Regatta, scheduled for Oct. 10-17, has been canceled. Customers with reservations between now and Oct. 31 should contact the company.

The Moorings also has an operations base in St. Martin, but no customers were there at the time of the storm. Its locations in Puerto Rico and Bahamas had minimal damage and will resume normal operations shortly.

On the hotel front, Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda "has been devastated" by the storm, according to a message on its Facebook page. Scrub Island Resort had extensive damage and is closed until further notice.

Sugar Mill Hotel on Virgin Gorda had some damage, but plans to reopen its restaurant on Oct. 12 and its hotel on Oct. 14.

Richard Branson's Necker Island was destroyed. Branson and his staff hid out in the wine cellar in Necker's Great House while the storm passed over the island.

Branson has called for a "Disaster Recovery Marshall Plan" for the BVI and other islands impacted by Irma.

"The plan will have to include building resilience against what is likely to be a higher intensity and frequency of extreme weather events, as the effects of climate change continue to grow," Branson wrote in a blog post.

A number of legendary beachfront bars are now rubble, including Bomba's Surfside Shack, Corsairs on Jost Van Dyke and Myett's in Cane Garden Bay, according to Pub Club.

The Soggy Dollar Bar has two walls standing and Foxy's was heavily damaged, but plans to rebuild.

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