Hurricane Irma: British expat whose partner is stuck on storm-hit island says 'everyone's turned feral'

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A British expat whose partner is stranded on a Caribbean island ravaged by Hurricane Irma says he carries a knife for protection because “everyone’s turned feral”.

Claudia Knight fled Tortola in the British Virgin Islands with her toddler daughter before the devastating storm struck.

However her marine engineer partner Leo Whitting, 38, stayed behind – and after seeing images of the awesome power of the storm Ms Knight said she thought he had died.

Now back in the UK, the 33-year-old, who runs an arts school on the island, said: “I honestly thought he was dead. Before I was making jokes like ‘make sure you park my car’, it was quite light-hearted because we didn’t know the storm was going to be that bad.

“The military is everywhere with machine guns. Everyone’s turned feral and no-one’s going out without being armed.

“You can’t drive your car without a weapon, it’s turning really nasty. Leo carries a knife with him.”

The prison was blown open by the storm meaning the inmates were free to roam, she added.

British soldiers and police officers have been sent to the British Virgin Islands to prevent lawlessness and looting and restore order.

NASA video- Irma from Space

Ms Knight, originally from Dorset, has lived on the island for the past four years with Mr Whitting and the couple have a two-year-old daughter, Dottie.

She managed to speak with him thanks to “brief flickers of internet”, adding “he phoned me shortly after and said I’m alive – Tortola isn’t.

“He looked like he has been touching death’s door, he’s very pale and gaunt. My house and my business have been blown away and destroyed. Nothing is left standing on the island.

“But we love it, and we want to go out and rebuild eventually.”

Ms Knight said people were beginning to evacuate but you had to “pay through the nose” to be shuttled off, adding Mr Whitting would hopefully manage to leave in the next few days.

She said: “I’m so guilty of seeing something terrible on the news then, you know, going back to your dinner after.

“But when it really happens to you and people you love have near-death experiences it’s horrible. The Government needs to do more to help.”

Many islands in the Caribbean have been left devastated by Hurricane Irma, which flattened buildings, left thousands homeless and killed at least 28 people.


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