Barbudans stronger together

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It was a family-like atmosphere at the National Technical Training Centre (NTTC) where hundreds of Barbudans are being housed following their evacuation from Barbuda in the
wake of Hurricane Irma’s wrath.
When OBSERVER media visited the NTTC yesterday, young boys were engaged in a friendly game of basketball at the side of the building, and some girls were having their hair combed along the corridor. While a few of the elderly were taking an afternoon stroll, others sat in groups conversing.
However, their cheerfulness and apparent resiliency ought not to in any way minimise the trauma that they experienced in the form of Hurricane Irma.
Nico Webber, a supervisor of craft at the cultural office in Barbuda said, “it’s only by God’s mercies” that we came out alive.
“The experience we had was not normal. I experienced Luis in 1995, but that cannot come close to what we experienced. That was more than a hurricane; it was like a typhoon, and I believe earthquake was with it too, the way the concrete  house was vibrating,” said Webber.
“We prayed that night. If we never prayed before in our lives, we prayed last week Tuesday night. Everyone was just crying because honestly we never thought we would be alive today.”
“We are thankful for all the help but I feel out of place. Even though Antigua is so close, Barbuda is all I know, and to see the rubble, because Barbuda is like rubble now, there is nothing left. It is just sad.”
Webber said that one of her greatest desires, as she tries to adjust to life outside of Barbuda, is to have
some level of independence so she can care for her children.
“I know the government is trying and they are doing their best but I am hoping to get a job to help my family so that we can have spending power instead of just relying on the government.”
Dorciah Punter, a mother of three, is also hoping they can receive employment in Antigua.
“For now, things are ok but we are really hoping we can get jobs here. We are also hoping to get the kids in school and we are looking forward to going back to Barbuda to assist in the clean up effort.”
Punter described her experience on the night of the storm as the scariest thing she has ever been through in all her life.
“Windows were shattered, the door broke off, kids were crying, they were holding on for life. It was really bad,” she said.
In the meantime, many of the residents staying at the shelters expressed happiness at the fact that they are together. This, they believe, will help them with the healing process.
“I am staying with a family but my sister said she don’t want to leave here; she wants to stay here with everyone else.
“We lost everything, so being around everyone and seeing that everyone is okay is enough for us. So, I don’t mind it here, Punter concluded.

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