British Response to Hurricane Irma


After a week of devastating disaster, Hurricane Irma has finally ceased its destruction. What is next?

Turks and Caicos, the British Virgin Islands, Anguilla, and many other small British territories in the Caribbean had to wait longer than the French and Dutch territories to receive help from their mother country. Even though all of the territories are self-governed, they still rely on the U.K. to come to their aid in times of crisis- they are British citizens. France and the Netherlands have sent support and found ways to lift their native tourists out of the rubble. However, the British government has not responded as quickly or effectively, leaving the islands’ tourists wondering what they are going to do next. We must help them! If anything like this were to happen on the mainland, the government would be scrutinised for not jumping on board the moment that something did not seem right. Proper evacuations and fundraising would be in place to help. It does not matter where our citizens are located geographically; they are us and we are them. Recently, it has been brought to the public’s knowledge that because the Islands bring in money from tourism, they are too wealthy to qualify for aid budget funds. How can this be possible? It should not matter how much revenue a country brings in during its peak seasons, because once disaster strikes, those numbers will plummet. If the U.K. government has the money to start reconstruction, there should be nothing stopping it. Without a steady education system, solid infrastructure, and overall business/hotel restoration the islands will not be able to be as financially independent as they once were, which would ultimately hurt Britain more than shelling out money to take immediate action.

And where is Prime Minister Theresa May during all of this? Well, here. She has sent her foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, to the islands to examine the damage. Because the islands do not qualify for the aid budget funds, the Treasury has had to raise money on its own. So far, it has managed to get £57 million together and £28 million of it has already been used in the first week. The Islands are assumed to split the money amongst themselves, but with only half the budget left, it does not look like it is possible to do so. Johnson believes that all together the countries are going to need at least £1 billion to be fully restored, and with £12 in the aid budget fund, it could be done. Mrs. May would not understand this, however, because she has not been down to see it yet with her own eyes. Being in a crisis such as this, it is very reassuring to the victims that their leader is with them through it all. President Emmanuel Macron of France has already made his way down to St. Barts and St. Martin to reassure the people that he is doing what he can. It is a comfort thing. It must be incredibly difficult and scary for the people who are caught in this to believe that the U.K. truly has their back when there is no representation from the person they look up to the most.

I am American, and the current damage that has been caused by the past three hurricanes is appalling and incredibly difficult to wrap my mind around. However, thinking back to Katrina and how horrendous the destruction in Louisiana was/still is, it is wild to me that the aid budget funds cannot be used. Aid budgets are created to help citizens when crises arise and there is no where to go. It is a safety blanket; a promise that things can and will get better. It is terrifying to think that just because these Islands bring in money from tourism means that they do not qualify for the proper help. These people are British citizens. Just because they are not seen everyday does not mean that their living conditions should be any less than ours.

Please continue to donate and make everyone around you aware of the situation that other Brits are dealing with. Just because they are not present on this island does not mean that their Islands are any less worthy of proper rights.

Colin O’Neil took to What’s App writing:
“BVI is devastated. I don’t recognize my country. I am trying to be strong because so many rely on me. Hard. My home roof Okay. Windows blown out. Tornados. No bark on a single tree. Looting. Pls appeal for help for security. We are DESPERATE.”

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