Father of the only fatality says his family relives the incident every night
By Latrishka Thomas
“Three years ago, but every night, it’s just like say it’s the same day,” Carl Francis lamented as he remembered September 6, 2017 when he lost his infant child, Carl Junior Dorian Francis, to the wrath of Hurricane Irma.
Three years ago, Francis, his two sons, their mother and their godmother trudged through high winds, murky waters, nails, wood and other debris in an attempt to find safety as Hurricane Irma ravaged through the almost 62 square miles of sun, sea and sand.
Francis explained that he and the rest of his family decided to stay in their home “thinking that it would just pass over,” and it wasn’t until they heard “the window cry” and “the wood crack” that they realised how serious Irma was.
But, it was too late.
“All of a sudden, I was outside in the water,” he told The Barbuda Channel during a special presentation for the anniversary of the Category 5 hurricane.
“I only know I was outside going towards the other house, and I have Jeremiah and the mom in my two hands, because they were going different directions and I tell them no, anywhere I go you come,” he further recounted.
He said that at some point he realised that he could not find his baby son, Carl, and “the feeling was different.”
“When I reach to the house I couldn’t find Carl, and I dash out and say look I have to find Carl ….if I die well the Lord knows, but I gonna look for him,” he added.
Twenty minutes later, “I met him on his back and he was breathing because I took him up in my hands, and I carry him in the house and put him on an iron table right there, and I breathe in his mouth and do the [first aid] and he blow off and he wasn’t dead or nothing, and he had a little life in him,” Francis said.
The man then tried to get help but it took 25 minutes to find transportation to take his son to the hospital.
He said that after finding his son, he found his godmother who was holding him.
“She head burst; she get about 35 stitches in her head, and only when I went to hospital maybe about two hours or three hours after in the morning when the mom come back up and tell me Carl gone,” he remarked.
According to Francis, the mother is still in shock, three years later.
“Up to this day she still in a shock. Carl birthday gone the 20 August. On the 20 August when we wake up in the morning to go and I said what happen and she started to cry. She say bring the picture for Carl give me. I suppose to go to work the morning and I just said I have to cool out little and make sure she alright ‘cause she just start to cry,” he shared.
An autopsy conducted at Mount St John’s Medical Centre in Antigua showed the child received a puncture wound to the head.
Meanwhile, another Irma survivor who spoke on the Barbuda Channel said that she remembers the storm by its intensity that she likened to that of Hurricane Luis which devasted the twin island around the same time 25 years ago.
“Irma was no normal storm, it was a monster,” Ricky Michael said.
Michael said that it was the innate reliance of Barbudans that gave everyone hope but, “It was the beginning of a new day from September 5th/ 6th going forward. You knew that things had to change.”