East Anglia joins national response to the devastation of Hurricane Irma

TJ Hickson, 5, stands outdoors near partially destroyed buildings on the island of Anguilla, which w

TJ Hickson, 5, stands outdoors near partially destroyed buildings on the island of Anguilla, which was hard hit during Hurricane Irma. Picture: Unicef - Credit: © UNICEF/UN0120826/English

It was only a week ago that Hurricane Irma struck island communities in the Caribbean before moving on to devastate parts of Florida.

Two girls show the educational and recreational supplies they received during a Unicef distribution

Two girls show the educational and recreational supplies they received during a Unicef distribution days after Hurricane Irma passed on the island of Antigua. Picture: Moreno Gonza/Unicef - Credit: © UNICEF/UN0121377/Moreno Gonza

And already thousands of pounds have been donated by people across the country, including those in East Anglia, to help the people whose lives have been turned upsidedown by the most intense and catastrophic hurricane the Atlantic has ever seen.

Joe English, a Unicef communications manager, has been helping with the relief effort in the Caribbean islands.

He said: 'Barbuda, famous for its pink sand beaches, suffered extensive damage and the death of a two-year-old boy, according to the media. 'Over 90pc of the island's buildings were hit, with homes, schools, the island's only hospital, and infrastructure either destroyed or severely damaged.'

Philmore Mullin, the director of the National Office of Disaster Services in Antigua and Barbuda, described the damage to Barbuda as: 'by far the worst' he had seen in his quarter century working on disaster response.


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He said: 'The situation could have been even worse.

'In the days following Hurricane Irma, there was a strong possibility that Hurricane Jose, a category four Hurricane which looked likely to follow Irma's path, could have hit the already-devastated island.'

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Officials moved quickly and evacuated the vast majority of the almost 2,000 residents to Antigua, most of whom had been left homeless by he first storm.

Unicef has scaled up the response on the ground and has deployed additional staff and supplies, including water purification tablets, hygiene kits, tents and educational materials to children and families.

A spokesman from the organisation said there were more than 7 million people, including 2.8 million children, estimated at risk in affected areas.

More than 19,000 people have been evacuated and are in shelters in Dominican Republic, and there are 132 schools are affected in Anguilla, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands.And more than 10,000 people are in shelters in Haiti. Unicef has launched an appeal to help children across the Caribbean in immediate danger in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Anyone wishing to donate can do so through www.unicef.org.uk/donate/hurricane-irma

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