Irma In Pictures: Main Street, Tortola
Main Street in the British Virgin Islands capital
was one of the hardest hit by category 5 hurricane Irma on September 6, 2017.

See PART 1 at
See PART 2 at
See PART 3 at

John and I survived Irma "by the skin of our teeth". We thought Eddie, our cat, had died in it, but he turned up unharmed 2 days later. So  maybe? since it was a Cat 5, Eddie used 5 of his 9 lives to save himself, and then gave us 2 to save ourselves!

Road Town took a direct hit, and since we live on a hill above it, we also took a direct hit.   In reality, it was a Cat 6 rather than a Cat 5 hurricane - and it was accompanied by tornadoes as well!! There are some reports that the winds registered about 250 mph!!!   Needless to say I don't think hurricane windows are built for that kind of wind force.

Our eclectic "house" has 4 buildings -  kitchen, living room, office cum 3rd bedroom and 2 storey bedroom building with a bedroom and ensuite on each floor. All had hurricane windows and doors.   We invited one of our renters from  our Luck Hill house to stay with us to ride out the storm as he experienced a Cat 5 in the Turks and Caicos, and did not want to be alone.    And it was just as well he did, as his studio apartment above the garage at Luck Hill was totally destroyed and only the garage remains!  And the apartment had hurricane windows.

So back to our Ridge Road house. We used the office/3rd bedroom to store a lot of the outside furniture. We had Oran our renter use the lower bedroom, and since storm winds were due to start overnight we holed up in our bedrooms - ours being on the upper floor - starting on Tuesday night.  We had a small fridge, microwave, kettle and food/drink supplies in each bedroom.

The western edge of the eye wall hit us around noon on Wednesday.   It was pretty terrifying and John had to hold on to the balcony doors to stop the winds from pulling them open. Lasted about an hour. John and Oran surveyed the property when the eye got to us and the winds died and there was substantial damage to all the trees - but nothing more.

The eastern edge of the eye hit us around 2 pm I think it was. The winds were way way higher than before and we could feel the building shaking - as if it was an earthquake. John was in the bedroom, and I was in the bathroom.  The wind was so strong that we could see it was actually unlocking the locks on the windows and starting to turn the handles that open them?!!!

We tried as hard as we could to keep all the doors and windows shut but after about half an hour they started to be ripped out one by one, and the wind and rain were pouring in. John got knocked to the floor with some furniture on top of him, and then the next thing was the walls were ripped off and everything from the bedroom, plus John and Eddie went hurtling off the floor and out behind the building. John ended up landing 8 feet below on his back and with a piece of bedroom wall almost on top of him, with nails sticking out a few inches away. A thick plastic cleaning caddy landed upside down on his head - which thankfully protected him from various other objects that fell on him.

Meanwhile I and the bathroom walls and everything in it were also swept out by the wind. I landed 8 feet below about 10 feet away from John as it turned out  - but I could not see him or hear him - even though he was screaming out for me.   We each thought the other was dead.

I moved to shelter under one of the fallen walls and saw John's knees and his hands -which were moving, so he was alive!!!!!   But a short time later I heard some things dropping where he was, and his hands stopped moving - so I was sure he was dead.

We stayed in our respective positions for about an hour and a half - totally drenched, shivering, and being battered   by the howling hurricane winds. We both realized we would die of hypothermia if we stayed where we were - but we still did not know if the other was alive.

Anyway, John managed to dig his way out of where he had landed - his grave as he calls it now - and crawled along a path and then saw me!!   So we huddled together for maybe another half hour, and then realized we had to get to some shelter, or we would be dead. We gradually slithered and crawled our way down stairs covered with all kinds of debris, wood with nails sticking up etc. and despite the wind, managed to crawl our way to the living room, hanging on to anything we could to stop ourselves being blown away.

We found that Irma had unlocked and opened the main living room doors, and doors on the opposite side of the room. The room had suffered a lot of damage from water and wind. All the windows were either cracked or broken. Nonetheless we sheltered there for about another hour and a half. During that time we had to hold on to the handle and bolt on the main doors to keep them shut. Our hands hurt badly in the process, and we kept having to change over from holding a bolt to a handle - to gve our hands a bit of a rest. It was a nightmare. I remember I kept saying "we can do it, love, - we can hang on a bit longer until the winds die down."

Eventually they and, around 6 pm, and we crawled up the stairs and took refuge in the other bedroom with Oran. He had also had to fight the wind to keep the balcony doors shut. Also the ceiling in the bathroom came down, and there was a significant leak above the bed, and cracks in every window. Oran was nice enough to sleep on the floor, while John and I slept horizontally across the bed, on either side of the leak. We slept fitfully as there were still very strong storm level winds.

The next morning we surveyed the damage. Our property and that of many, many others - including about 85 per cent of Road Town looks like it has been hit by a bomb. Aleppo comes to mind.

Most of the windows in our office blew out as well as part of the walls and roof, so that room and most things in it are ruined - including John's Dinky toy collection.

   The roof over our open air dining area between bedrooms and office is now lying in our back garden. The pergola over our dining area between kitchen and living room was ripped apart - with all the wood beams  blocking our kitchen doors.

 There was a lot of wind and water damage to the living room - lots of personal items damaged e.g. ornaments and pictures that we got on our travels that were part of our lives, plus TV . Lots of leaks in the second bedroom. And of course with the disappearance of our master bedroom we lost laptops, phones, kindles, clothes, jewellery, all kinds of personal items, plus TV, fridge etc. etc.

 Took 3 days before John and Oran could get to crowbar a hole in the tool shed to get chainsaw and other tools to cut the beams.

We lived in the same clothes for 3 days. We were not able to shower for 5 days - and on and on.

But we have a generator - which we run twice a day  so we can shower, and cook etc.

We found my wallet (with credit cards and drivers licence, and my Blackberry , which still works.

We are under martial law - curfew from 6pm to 9am. We have UK army and marines plus police and UN folks.

We have lots of water and sufficient food for now. Main supermarket opens a few hours each day, as do banks and gas stations.

Looks like I'm getting some internet - so will stop now. Thanks for reading and for your prayers and your support. Elaine

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.


I am typing this message around 6 pm on Monday, Sept. 18 - but I am not sure when you will get it. I was thrilled this morning to find I had internet and could go on-line, and also do Facebook. But it lasted an hour and I have not had it since - and I have not even been able to send or receive email either.
First of all - apologies to those of you to whom I have not yet replied to your email. As you can imagine we have a lot on our plate. Also I type a lot slower on my Blackberry than I do on a laptop.

Secondly thanks to everyone from John and me for all your lovely messages of support, love, best wishes and offers to help. They are much appreciated, and help to bolster us as we try to keep going.

John was at a very low ebb this morning when we learned about Hurricane Maria strengthening and perhaps going to hit us.    We now understand that it might not come that close - but we are monitoring it nonetheless. We have done a lot of prep today and will do more tomorrow.

For those of you who asked:
1. The police, marines and army caught the 100 convicts who escaped the prison. Not sure whether they were foolish enough to travel as a group - or they finally realized with the strip joints flattened, no guns to hold up people, and no money to buy food, they were better off behind bars having 3 square meals a day!
2. Oran took us to hospital 2 days after the hurricane as I had a stone hit my eye, and was in a lot of pain. Also had a gash on my leg. John was hurting a lot - already had a bad back from a bad car crash many years ago. He thought he had cracked some ribs. Anyway the docs did their thing. My eye is fine now - and I'm dressing my leg every day. No cracked ribs for John but he exacerbated his former injuries. So on strong painkillers. But both of our bodies - mine in particular - have huge bruises all over the place - not to mention cuts. John accused me the other day of not having showered properly - only to realize they were bruises - sort of looked like tatoos.

We slept on the bed in our 2nd bedroom last - now our 1st bedroom. The first time on a bed since the hurricane. Was lovely. That's it for tonight folks. Don't know when I'll be able to email next - but will do so as soon as I can. Kind regards. Elaine and John

UPDATE 3: September 22, 2017
We got through Maria with no additional damage to ourselves or are property - amazingly enough. We hunkered down at 6pm on Tuesday in the kitchen, which was the only one of our four buildings that had NO damage during Irma. It is all concrete - including roof. And we had no cracked or broken windows or leaks this time around either. We had makeshift beds set up on the floor, our emergency radio, Oran's phone that he left us, lots of food and water, candles, torches and a commode, that I suddenly remembered we had from when Angela was here one time and was ill and bed-ridden for a while.

Maria was a Cat 5.  We did not get a direct hit - but it was still horrendously scary, with the constant noise and pounding of the wind, and rain, which went on from about 7 pm Tuesday to about 2 pm Wednesday when we got the all clear. Neither of us were sure we could hang on. I wanted to cry or to throw up - or just run outside and say " OK - you win - I can't take any more - just kill me now and be done with it!"

And it is still windy and miserable looking.

Eddie disappeared before Maria hit - in fact he was freaked out on Tuesday morning very early - so clearly could sense that something nasty was coming. But he turned up again yesterday afternoon - very nervous but unscathed.

That's it for now. Thanks again for all your support and offers of help.

Much appreciated. Elaine and John


We are still living a pretty stressful, tiring and very different life compared to pre-hurricane living. But at least grocery-shopping and getting gas for the car, and diesel for the generator is getting easier.

When John and Oran first went grocery-shopping, 4 days after Irma, at our main grocery store, Riteway, it was tightly controlled by UK police and military, and it was only open from noon to 4 p.m. There was a huge line-up, and they were only letting in about 10 - 12 people at a time. John and Oran got there soon after 9 and had to wait in the sun for hours to get in. When they did, they pretended not to be together, so they each got a shopping cart. They then proceeded to race around like "eejits" grabbing tons of water, lots of canned goods and other non-perishable items. They said they felt as if they were the winners of one of those competitions, where you have 15 minutes to win as many groceries as you can get into your cart!!!

Of course they had to pay - in cash, as the credit card machines were not working. They spent about $500 between them. They were gone for hours, and I was very worried that something had happened to them. Eventually they came home with the groceries plus 10 one gallon jugs of water, 8 1/2 gallon jugs plus about 4 huge cases of regular size bottles!!. Since we were worried about looting, it then became my job to hide all of this water!!   I did it so well I only remembered this morning where I had hidden 24 of the bottles!

Getting the car filled up with gas was also a challenge until about 5 days ago. There were huge line-ups for gas - to the point the 4 lane highway by the main gas station was blocked on both sides.  And we were also worried about people trying to siphon gas out of our tanks, so John and Oran took pains to park our cars with the gas tank opening right against the wall of our property.

Many stores in Road Town were looted - electronics stores, jewellery stores, liquor distributors and the biggest pharmacy.   So it was impossible to buy a laptop, phone or camera   anywhere.

Since Oran had been through a Cat 5 on Turks and Caicos some years before, he knew what the aftermath might be, with looting etc. Our contractor was good about getting to us pretty quickly to deal with water leaks etc. And he also patched up our main gate, which was broken up. Since a determined thief could have found another way around - Oran proceeded to root through the debris and find pieces of wood with nails sticking up - and he laid those in strategic places?!! He also found some broken Spanish decorative tiles and kept them handy beside the doors to his Juliet balcony doors. He said that if he heard any intruders he was going to lob them down at the intruders from his balcony!!!

Fortunately it did not come to that.  We are being careful though. A friend's house was ravaged in Irma, and she decided to head to Europe to be with her family, as it was no longer livable . She is on FB a lot, and probably posted that she had boarded up the house and was headed off. Anyway looters broke two doors to her property, looted the place, left their "calling card" (one can only imagine") and also managed to steal her car that was locked in a garage. And another person whose place was empty was also looted.

I think the curfew is still on - but just from 8pm to 6am.   I don't think we will be going out for dinner for a long time to come - even when the curfew is lifted - until we feel sure that our place is as secure as it was pre-Irma.

 We go grocery shopping together during the day, as Oran's car is a bit wider than mine, and I am a bit nervous of driving it when the roads are still hazardous, with lots of debris making them even narrower. And we lost the front passenger side window in my Jeep in Irma, so it is currently covered with a black garbage bag - which also does not make for the safest driving. ( But we may be able to get clear plastic on the window next week - so I will feel more comfortable driving it. ) Another hazard is broken glass and wood with nails sticking up - so flat tyres happen often. We have only had one so far.

As much as possible the plan is for one of us to be at the property while the other goes to town or whatever. Although when we have workers here during the day - who we know and trust - we feel very comfortable heading off to do errands.

We have had 2 of our contractor's people here for 5 days last week just trying to chain-saw and hack their way through bedroom and bathroom walls, and the roofs over our two outside dining areas, which were swept off, along with the rest of the debris. They took one full skip away, and we now have another load waiting to be picked up.

 This work has allowed us to go "scavenger-hunting" or "treasure- hunting" as we prefer to call it?. We have found pretty much all we are going to find - I think  - probably about 90 percent of John's clothing plus about 80 percent of mine. But of what we have found probably 80 per cent or more is ruined e. g. badly torn or stained. We have done several washes of various items - to no avail. But my Eagles T- shirts and cap survived.Yeah!!!!!

Until about 4 days ago, my extensive wardrobe consisted of one grotty pair of white shorts that I have not worn for years, the blue jeans that I wore when I got swept out of our bathroom, 2 Tshirts and a few undies.   Meanwhile I was finding a gazillion of John's T-shirts, many of which I had not seen before, plus a gazillion of his underwear and socks. I was ready to scream if I found one more!! We could have easily outfitted the 100 escaped convicts with T-shirts, underpants and socks and still had lots left for John!!

On a positive note did find one piece of treasure - the jewellery box with my tanzanite and diamond wedding ring? in it!!   The other ring - tanzanite solitaire ring was gone though. And we still have not found 2 laptops, a kindle fire and several cameras. But Ali (John's daughter) is sending an " electronics" package down with a friend of ours - maybe this coming week.

Other positive things - we have had another crew here today - chain-sawing their way through the downed trees at the back of our property. Tomorrow they will come back to continue. We also had our electrician cum plumber here yesterday to start to work his magic.  We were able to take a hot shower again last night - which was lovely.

We only normally have power twice a day when we put the generator on for 1 1/2 - 2 hours each time. One friend has loaned us a desk - top computer, which I am using. And another new-found friend across the road, who used to work at a computer store in town, has given John a small basic laptop, which is great - and much appreciated. But neither has a battery - so we can only use them when we have power on - which of course is when we are also showering, cooking, or doing laundry.

Got to go. Have bored you enough. Sorry for long email. Thanks again for your support and lovely messages. They make us both cry needed tears - but help tremendously.

Elaine and John

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

UPDATE #5 ~ October 3, 2017
We are splurging and having our generator on for a bit longer tonight to catch up on laundry, charging blackberry, a back-up battery unit that seems to be still working, showers etc.

Some random thoughts:

-  in the early days it was interesting, when we weren't just focusing on getting us to survive through this nightmare, to see that all levels of the food chain were in a fight for survival - the fruit flies (if and when I ever get up to Heaven  my first questions will be - "where the f... do the socks go to in the dryer?"  and " where the f... do fruit  flies come from and go to?".    And the flies are  always trying to get into our food at meal times, and then the honey bees, the geckos, the lizards. the bananakeets, hummingbirds. trashy birds, and on up the food chain to us.   John finally found his bananakeet/hummingbird feeder -- so he is once again depleting our sugar supply to feed his birds -- as  in birds with wings -- as opposed to the Liverpudlian definition of "birds" - actually pronounced as "berds".  But it is one small bit of normalcy in the midst of this horror story.  So far we have 2 bananakeeets and 1 hummingbird.  I've put water out for the geckos and lizards though -- and hopefully they"ll eat enough mozzies.

- when Oran was here and he and John were working hard after Irma to try to clear up rubble, hunt for treasure, hacksaw through wood to get to John's tool shed. so he could get to tools. so they could chainsaw through the pergola beams to get to our kitchen -- my dad would have said that my role was as "Chief Cook and Bottle-Washer" - and "keeping the home fires burning" as my mum did  in the war -- when my dad was serving as a medic in WWII in Europe. So I tried my best to keep John and Oran  fed as best I could under the conditions.  But it was hard.  I had made  a Tikka Massala and a Cottage Pie beforehand.  But because we had no electricity, other than when the generator was on, I found that food in the fridges would go off quite quickly.  Hmmm... my mum probably could have told me that!!

As many of you know -- I love to cook -- I'm the daughter  of a wartime medic, who was really a chef, but did not want to be one in the war -- but he got back to being a chef after the war -- and progressed through the chef ranks at hotels and then Littlewoods and became the private chef for Sir John Moore and family at their private estate in Scotland.   But I am having to learn new skills of survival -- food-wise.

- since we only have the generator on for maybe 4 hours a day, you learn pretty quickly that you cannot just stock up up your fridge and freezer as normal -- or it will all rot in a few days.  So now I:
--------- buy milk and other perishable food for just 3 days
................put all milk, butter, frozen foods and other perishable food in the freezer.  It does not freeze but lasts for a few days
..... stock up the freezer with regular sized bottles of water - that I refill from our gallon bottles of water every day ...............- as we have to have  water for our workers  Those bottles don't freeze, but they help to keep other items cold
..... go back to simple recipes that I can do in the stove
... buy fresh eggs and boil them up straightaway so they last longer
.. buy frozen regular or hot sausages - and cook them up straightaway - and freeze them - as they last longer

Tonight  I made a lentil and hot italian sausage stew - all on the top of the stove

What do you think ... Martha  Stewart - eat your heart out ..  I'm going to do a Hurricane  Cook Book

Every night we play our Ipod with Eagle and Everly Brothers music , and other favourites  - just to keep our  spirits upbeat.  And then we turn the generator off and go to bed with flashlights and candles.

Thanks for all your support, and love.  We'll make it through eventually - a bit battered, blue and probably in some trauma for some time to come....

And with all due respect to my US friends, I gather that Trump was comparing the damage from Maria in Puerto Rico to Katrina!!  Give  me a f..... break!!!  The good news is that we don't have to suffer TV with Trump ad  nauseum!!  But could you just impeach the guy before we get electricity and TV back -- pretty please!!


First and foremost - John has email again -- largely thanks to Ali.

We have a friend, Gary, from Winnipeg who has a house down here. He arrived here this week and was kind enough to bring down an electronics package from Ali, which contained  an iPad, iPhone, camera,and Dell laptop, plus accessories.   So I helped John get his email set up today on his laptop. So you can now bombard him with emails.

We had a very hard and tiring day on Friday, so we tried to rest yesterday - although we did do some work to re-organize our closets in what we used to call Ali's bedroom - which is now ours, so we have a bit more room for our stuff.

On Friday,  we had to take my jeep in to "Smiley" to have him fit a back-up horn, and also check the brakes.  So John drove Oran's car, which he left for us - we are buying it from him - and I followed.  I found a place a few days ago that would fit see-through plastic on broken car windows, so John got my passenger window fixed with that - to replace the black garbage bag.  SO it is now safe to drive.  90% or more of the vehicles here have damage  -- you would not believe it. Some are total write-offs.  Some are like ours - with a cracked windshield and a smashed passenger-side window.  We still have broken shards of glass on both the front seats  of our jeep.  Don't have a long enough cord to use our shop-vac - and we have other things to attend to.

Driving anywhere here is extremely stressful - because:
1.  there are lots of trees, wood and galvalum ( roofing) on the sides of the roads - so in many parts there is only room for one vehicle at a time - and many motorists here don't understand the concept of giving way,
2. there are lots of electricity wires down on  the roads - which leads to the same problem as in 1 above,
3. there are  lots of wooden electricity poles down -often bent over the roads, so you have to be sure you can drive under them safely - and that also leads to the same problem as in 1 above,
4. we have to watch out for the wood, nails,  glass and galvalum on the side of the road, and that we don't drive over it, as we will get another puncture and flat tyre. We have had two so far.
5.  the folks who never had any driving sense to begin with, seem to have lost it all together - particularly the idiots on motor bikes who weave in and out - without helmets of course.
6. and there are huge bumps, cracks  etc. on the roads.
7.  Because the whole terrain is so different from before e.g. no trees, barren hillsides< and all kinds of houses ypou never knew existed, you are frequently at a loss to know where you are  - thinking you must have missed your turn or taken a wrong one - even though we have driven on these road hundreds of times.

We also went to Luck hill to inventory lost and damaged contents.  And we went to see our quantity surveyor to gee him up about getting some guttering repairs done at Luck Hill - so we don't have to truck in water.  And we found out that at long last we may get the loss adjusters in next week.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mangle, the tree-lopper - who I call Mr. Bojangles - was thoroughly pissed off at us today, because our contractor had not got a skip here this week, to clear the huge mound of debris from our front garden. so that he could move the huge mound of wood from our level 2.  I let John deal with that issue.  We save me - "The Mandrish"  as I am known in some quarters - for the really troublesome issues.

 I cannot begin to tell you what living through these two hurricanes has been like .  Nothing you see on TV or read could prepare you for this - or give you any sense of what it was like.   With all due respect to my dad who saw his best friends - Angel and Rider - blown up in WW2 in the next bunker to his - maybe I am wrong - but I don't imagine the shelling went on for 17 hours or more as both  hurricanes did  with us.

I don't think they recognized PTSD  after world war 2 - but I think there will be a lot of it here and elsewhere in the Caribbean - after these two hurricanes.  I'm already having bad nightmares - and I like to think I am a strong lady.

We were interviewed late this afternoon by a well-educated lady - will tell you more in another email.  It took her quite some time to understand that what had happened to us was not just a case of the roof blowing off - but our entire bedroom and bathroom blowing off -walls and all contents, with us and Eddie with it.  John had to take her up to our roof - cum/floor of our bedroom/bathroom for her to appreciate what had happened to us.

Meanwhile Eddie  has settled in to  the new routine.  He still stares at  me when he needs his food bowl replenished.  So, question for you cat owners - if we had a female cat would she stare at John when she wanted food???  Also Eddie seems to like his new bed - Ali's bed as we used to call it - but it is not quite  a King size - nonetheless the little sod  manages to stretch out all over my side of course.

Eddie has been a bit confused by the new set-up.  In our former master bedroom there was a door and entry-way between our bedroom and bathroom. Eddie would bring us presents from time to time at night.  He would bring a "bo-peep" frog - tiny thing the size of your thumb - or a gecko, or a small (non-poisonous) snake, or a rat ( which are typically the size of a mouse).  But he was very thoughtful.   With a bo-peep frog or a gecko he would turn left when he came in the door and bring them into our bedroom - and we would have to go hunting the next day to find and release them.  With snakes and rats he would turn right and take them into our shower.  And he would always announce that he had brought us a present.  The set-up in our current bedroom is quite different - so the other night he brought a dead rat in, and dropped it on our carpet - and of course I almost stepped on it when I went to the bathroom during the night!! Hmmmmmm.

That's it for now folks.  Thanks for the support and messages. Much appreciated.  Elaine


First some housekeeping.
For those who didn't know, I'm back online (duh!). Thanks to Ali's Care Package of electronics. I've set up a recipient list - all of my old ones were lost. There are likely to be challenges with this list as E Mail people don't seem to like them and treat them as spam. If some of you can just hit reply when you get this so I can tell if it has worked, I'd appreciate it. If you want details of what has been happening to us for the past month, go my web page on Bill Hillman's site, and you will find Elaine's updates. Thanks Bill. I've included my yesterday's message (now correctly dated) for those who didn't get it. There is some new stuff below, I hope.


Just got a care package from Ali including this computer so I am online for the first time in a month. For a few hours a day, anyway, when the generator is on. We lost computers, phones, kindles etc etc. We suffered some severe building damage as you probably know, losing sections of each property, but are fighting back. Or at least thinking about it. We are struggling with insurance and contractors and that will be our theme for quite a while. Probably under insured, but so it goes. I am on a lot of strong pills for my back, hurt when I was blown out of our bedroom, and flew for some distance before gravity kicked in, but it is improving. Elaine is in pretty good shape. Eddy is fine, but down to maybe six lives. As they say, we were lucky to remain alive, but I don’t feel lucky a lot of the time. Depression comes and goes.

On Luck Hill our apartment over the garage is completely gone, the lower apartment of the main structure received significant water damage, and the upper house is pretty beat up. On Ridge Road our bedroom was blown apart, apparently by a tornado in the eye wall. We were in it at the time so that was a bit traumatic. Our clothes and other stuff was scattered over a pretty large acreage. Our bedroom floor is now the roof of Ali’s bedroom (as it used to be termed). Ali’s room and bathroom are a bit leaky but otherwise ok. The office/third bedroom was semi-demolished but is now waterproof again. The living room got a lot of water damage when doors blew open. The kitchen was essentially untouched – we should have been in there. We were when Maria went through us a while later.

We now have a new five-year plan, although the details past noon today, are a bit fuzzy. It will be some time before the houses are fixed up, and thus some time before we can really know our tentative future.

I still find it difficult to write or think, about our experiences over the last month, but if you have missed Elaine’s updates, I believe they are located on my part of Bill Hillman’s website. Google John Everitt/ Bill Hillman and you should find them.

Losing my computers meant I lost my email addresses, so feel free to forward this message to any interested parties. Anyway, enough for now, I’m messaged out.

Message October 9th 2017

Yesterday our contractor appeared and put a tarpaulin over our leaky bathroom. Last night it rained. It still leaks. We also had a few leaks in the bedroom as it was another very heavy storm. Depressing. For those who don’t know, our present bedroom (once “Ali’s Room”) no longer has a bedroom or a roof above it, thanks to Irma, so our ceiling is now the floor of our Master Bedroom of yore. It wasn’t built to be leakproof. But we hoped…

Our contractor has been busy over the past couple of weeks trying to get the place liveable. A huge amount of rubble was trucked out a week ago, but a lot remains (we lost two other rooves in addition to the whole third floor which was the master suite). It is pretty good at present but the various scars are a constant reminder of Irma – not that we need the as flashbacks do the job quite well. Another contractor has started to “trim” the various huge trees that were once one of the prides of the property, but became missiles in Irma’s hands. Once all of that is cleared, I will begin a micro cleanup in order to make the place look a bit more pleasant. Another part of Ali’s care package included a camera (my three were lost in the hurricane). I will then include some photos in a letter and probably on Facebook.

We are hoping that the insurance adjustor will appear soon and send our lives into a new phase of reconstruction. We are not sure what we will do to the two properties yet. Finances will be a big constraint I expect. But we want to make them liveable, then saleable, asap. All part of the new five-year plan. We are hoping it is not a ten-year plan.
Not feeling too ambitious today, so I’ll finish now.

Random thoughts:

• John is very happy today because Ali sent a care package down with our friend Gary, who also lives in Winnipeg, and has a house down here. So John is now the proud owner of an iPad, plus keyboard, plus iPhone,  Dell laptop.  plus camera.  And since John is not a techno-geek - this has all meant that I have largely set everything up for him with email settings etc.
• We had  a loss adjuster here today - at our Ridge Road house - and I suddenly had a lightening flash of the obvious i.e. " why do they call themselves loss adjusters?   Could it be because  they don't take your word for it and they adjust your claim downward??? Very depressing.  I think we will find out that we are under-insured - and they will screw us.  Have to see if  " The Mandrish will have enough energy to rise up to that challenge to argue the case.
• Meanwhile our useless government had a prayer ceremony last Friday to celebrate one month on from Irma. Excuse me - but why..... would you celebrate that day?? And then the Premier announced that "God was good to us.......  excuse me - but what exactly are you smoking or drinking??   You have 22+% of the population homeless  - and you think God was good to us??  So I can't imagine what God being bad to us would be like!!!.  And how many homeless folks - Mr. Premier - have you taken in?  I despair.  Meanwhile one member of the opposition party was complaining that Theresa May had not come down here.  Well with all due respect to my Brit friends and family - I'm happy to have you keep her there, along with Boris - so they can try to sort out things on the home front.
• Christine and Kim came over yesterday to cheer us up.  Was lovely to see them.  They cheer us up a lot.
•  As if we had not had enough of tropical stuff we had another two tropical waves over the last two days - and our bathroom still leaked.  Enough is enough!!
• We have a loss adjuster coming to our Luck Hill house tomorrow morning.  Hoping that will all go well.
• After the loss adjuster - or is that  screw-adjuster -- came this morning, John and I went through all of our damaged, torn and otherwise ruined clothes. We filled up  4 very big garbage bags - and we have much more to go.  We saved some - hoping that another washing, or a very good dry clean will work. ( Not so for my favourite outfit that I was going to wear to Ali's wedding next year.)  Was very hard for both of us throwing out various treasured clothes - with all kinds of associated memories.  We were both somewhat weepy by the end - and we still have a whole lot more to get through.
•  That's it for tonight.  In the next few days John may send pictures of our nightmare property

Another day, but not another dollar.

Woke up today with a bad back pain. Eddy had got into a cat fight in the middle of the night and I rushed out to save him and twisted it. The pain mostly went away when I threw a heavy bag of garbage into a dumpster later on. So it goes. The insurance "loss adjustor" came today. They are, of course, hard to read and hard to con, but we did our best. Insurance rules are arcane and, I think, somewhat criminal. If they think you have undervalued your stuff when buying the policy, they penalise you. After they take away the deductible and multiply the total by a secret percentage. In fact if you do or say almost anything they can penalise. you.  We may end up owing them money. His (Robert Osborne-the adjustor) father scored the winning goal versus Arsenal, for Ipswich, in an FA CUP Final about 40 years ago. Not sure if that helped us or not. A nice enough guy, but with a large chunk of our future in his note book, and not under our control.

After he'd gone we went shopping. These trips are always traumatic as we have to drive through the devastation both ways. It's bad enough seeing ours, but seeing everybody else's is perhaps worse. "They" say 22% of the population is homeless and 80% of the buildings are badly damaged. Who really knows. But it does look like Beirut in the bad days or Aleppo today. Great big heaps of rubble and metal roofing. Ruined furniture everywhere. Cars with no windows and mashed up bodies. Some half crushed. Some of these are still being driven around by people with no other choice. Quite are lot are being lived in. And nails and screws everywhere searching for your tyres. The "bush" is slowly starting to reclaim the debris fields on the hillsides and I suppose they will look better in a month or two. I have no idea where all of the wreckage will go to, or when. Every piece of vegetation looks like it has came from a World War One battlefield. Got more diesel to (hopefully) keep the generator running for another (five or six hours a ) day.

Then we came back  to clean up a bit. Now the loss-guy has been we could get rid of some of the "evidence". Started by going through our clothes. I had been collecting these from various places throughout our, and neighbouring, properties for three or four weeks. Pretty well all that we owned, of course. I washed them and then we piled the evidence in the living room. Some of it was ok, but much was not. Many shirts had been stained by chemicals in the earth. Many were ripped. Many were still mouldy. Usually my favourites, of course. Out they go in black bin bags. It's like your life flashing across your eyes. Again. I still hope to do some more successful 'treasure hunting' before we give up. I find something on most of my scavenging trips. Found Elaine's wedding ring last week.

Well, that's it for now. Time for a nap.

October 12 Report
Had a mixed couple of days. Yesterday we went to Luck Hill to have our house looked at by the loss adjustor. A guy from Trinidad. So we had a laugh about T and T beating the USA in the Wold Cup qualifiers. It was pouring with rain. Again. As we were in the midst of another Tropical Wave. The main house didn't look as bad as we had thought it might be. The lower suite is probably worse and needs some immediate work. Once again  we got no idea what the Trini was going to say in his report. Wot me Worry? But he predicted that some of the insurers will go belly up because of Irma. Oh joy. We then came back to Hotel California and watched the rain. Fortunately the wind direction was friendlier than before and not too much came in the bedroom.

I had a bad night with  my back so we decided to visit the clinic again today. My Jamaican doc decided she needed help, so in the p.m. we got to see this German specialist. Nice guy, but it was clear he wasn't a happy camper re my back. "Has that hump always been there" he exclaimed. Not a good start. Thinks I may have broken something which the hospital missed on September 8th. So it was back to Emergency (which was at its sub-zero best). After some time (of course) I had  a CT scan, and then spent another freezing hour while they got my original x rays and the ct scan put onto cds. Back to German doc tomorrow for an evaluation. Got a load of new meds which will hopefully help me sleep tonight. I'm not allowed to lift heavy weights, so we've got to work out how we get (50 pound cans of) diesel out of the car and into the generator. Bugger.

I have got the rough idea of how to work an I phone, and have got the Kindle App onto my I Pad. So not a completely wasted couple of days.

See PART 1 at
See PART 2 at
See PART 3 at