Hurricane Irma: prayers for Barbuda at Southwark Cathedral service


TJ Hickson, 5, stands outdoors near partially destroyed buildings on the island of Anguilla, which was hard hit during Hurricane Irma.

According to Sanders, Irma was "the most ferocious, cruel and merciless storm" in the island's history. There is no electricity and no clean water.

Speaking in Southwark on Thursday night, Commonwealth secretary general Baroness Patricia Scotland made an impassioned plea for people to work ceaselessly for the restoration of the island of Barbuda, 95 per cent devastated by Hurricane Irma.

Officials moved quickly and evacuated the vast majority of the nearly 2,000 residents to Antigua, most of whom had been left homeless by he first storm. Only pets were left on Barbuda. "For the first time in 300 years, there's not a single living person on the island of Barbuda - a civilisation that has existed in that island for close to, over 300 years has now been extinguished". Something quite understandable after Irma went through Barbuda with a wind speed of about 260 km/h.

Though Barbudan evacuees are safe, Sanders says the situation is not ideal - people are living in cramped quarters in government facilities and nursing homes, including some 500 school-aged children.

Antigua families have also opened their homes to as many people as they can. Now that school is back in session, Antigua must find room for these students.

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As the evacuation was underway, Browne told the BBC that a fast rebuild and recovery operation on the island was unlikely to happen. The cost of reconstruction has been estimated to be in the region of $200 million and would likely take several years to complete.

Sanders says the world must step up and help Barbuda.

Mentioning that Barbuda has world-class beaches with pink sand and crystal clear water, he said the island is attractive for tourism.

He said: 'We are hopeful that the global community will come to our aid, not because we're begging for something we want, but because we're begging for something that is needed'.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne called it "just miraculous" that only one person died due to the disaster.