London News & Search
A Londoner stranded the Caribbean said she is “so scared” as the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane in recorded history made landfall.
Victoria Adams, 23, has been scrambling to get a last minute flight out of the Turks and Caicos Islands as the 185-mph Hurricane Irma barrels towards the West Indies.
She and hundreds of other British holidaymakers have been told to abandon their trip and evacuate the islands and the US state of Florida before the highest-ranking category five storm hits land on Wednesday.
Hurricane Irma is set to arrive in Turks and Caicos on early Thursday and locals have already begun to barricade their homes in preparation for the storm, which according to the National Hurricane Centre is likely to bring “large and destructive” waves and a storm surge of up to 20 feet.
Irma is also expected to bring between eight and 12 inches of rain and “life-threatening flash floods and mudslides” to the islands.
Ms Adams, who was due to fly back to Britain with British Airways on Sunday, followed advice issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to heed evacuation orders from local authorities.
But she said BA told her all their flights out of the island are fully-booked. Every other plane due to leave the island before the hurricane hits on Thursday is also full to capacity.
“I am so, so scared right now,” senior public affairs account executive Ms Adams told the Standard. “I can’t even get on a flight anymore, they’re all fully booked.
“My only option now is to go to the airport when it opens and pray a seat on any flight opens up.
“I don’t know what to do if I have to stay – beyond stay on high ground and barricade the windows.”
The LSE graduate, who lives in Chalk Farm, flew out more than a week ago to visit a university friend living in Grace Bay. She said islanders told her they expect the storm to be “the worst they’ve ever seen”.
“I spoke to FCO, they said to follow local advice,” Ms Adams said.
“British Airways said they could only push my flight forward to Friday, post-hurricane, which seems silly. They said all their flights are booked and can’t help with other carriers.
“I just can’t believe it though, I’ve been making calls for two or three days and they’ve done nothing.
“Someone from BA called me and apologised saying there’s nothing they can do now. They took so long to speak to me I now can’t physically leave the island.”
Ms Adams now plans to arrive at the airport when it opens at 7am local time on Wednesday to try and bag a space.
A spokeswoman for British Airways said: “We are doing everything possible to care for our customers and are in regular contact with them, and the managers of their hotels.
“Their safety is our top priority, but we could never operate a flight unless it was safe to do so.”
The airline added that it laid on a special flight to bring 326 stranded Brits back from Antigua on Tuesday before the hurricane arrives on the island.
“The Antigua and St Kitts airport authorities have advised us that their airports will be closed today,” the spokeswoman added.
“We have offered all customers due to travel to the Caribbean and Florida in the coming days a range of re-booking options and are keeping our flights to the entire region under review.”
The hurricane passed over Barbuda in the early hours of Wednesday morning. It is following a path predicted to rake Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba before possibly heading to Florida over the weekend.
Authorities on the Leeward Islands cut power and urged residents to shelter indoors while officials warned people to seek protection from Irma’s “onslaught” in a statement that closed with: “May God protect us all.”
US President Donald Trump declared emergencies in Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and authorities in the Bahamas said they would evacuate the residents of six islands at the southern end of the island chain.
London News & Search