Bury St Edmunds family continue efforts to help rebuild Barbuda after relatives escape Hurricane Irma unhurt

A man surveys the wreckage on his property after the passing of Hurricane Irma, in St. John's, Antig

A man surveys the wreckage on his property after the passing of Hurricane Irma, in St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda, on Wednesday. Picture: AP Photo/Johnny Jno-Baptiste - Credit: AP

A Suffolk family with relatives living in Barbuda have raised more than £18,000 to help with the relief efforts after Hurricane Irma devastated the Caribbean island.

Afiya Frank, who has been helping with the voluntary evacuation. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Afiya Frank, who has been helping with the voluntary evacuation. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

Ruth Bolton, from Badwell Ash, near Bury St Edmunds, has two nieces, 27-year-old Afiya Frank – who is pregnant – and her sister Asha Frank, 29 – living in Barbuda.

After establishing their family are unhurt, the Bolton family – many who are based in the Bury St Edmunds area – are now planning to send a container full of emergency items and tools to help the island rebuild.

Ruth posted on her fundraising website: “£17,000 this morning. Beyond imagination. Thank you everyone. This is far more than we ever expected to raise.

“We are now in very good contact with Asha and Afiya Frank, and other Barbudans. We are hearing the terrifying stories and seeing the images of destruction on the island. It is unbelievable that there were not more fatalities.

Asha Frank, who has been seen helping on the island. Picture: CONTRIBUTED

Asha Frank, who has been seen helping on the island. Picture: CONTRIBUTED - Credit: Archant

“Emergency meetings are taking place today in Antigua and planning ongoing to get everybody back to Barbuda as soon as possible.

“In the meantime most are in shelters and temporary accommodation in Antigua.”

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Alice Bolton, from Bury St Edmunds, is appealing for donations to fill a container to be shipped out to Barbuda. Afiya and Asha, who are half Caribbean, are her cousins.

She posted on Facebook: “I am asking for donations, which I will put onto a container to ship over to Barbuda in the next few weeks.

People recover broken parts of the dock in St John's, Antigua and Barbuda, after Hurricane Irma pass

People recover broken parts of the dock in St John's, Antigua and Barbuda, after Hurricane Irma passed. Picture: AP Photo/Johnny Jno-Baptiste - Credit: AP

“I am mostly collecting tools...to help rebuild the village which has been totally devastated. Things I am trying to gather are to help fix mainly roofs of ruined buildings.”

She said 90% of the island’s building have been destroyed by the hurricane, which also hit Cuba before making its way to Florida. Dozens of people have been killed so far.

Barbuda, a 68 square-mile island, is one half of the dual island state of Antigua and Barbuda and was where the then Category 5 hurricane first made landfall.

Alice, who can be contacted on the ‘Things for sale or wanted in Bury St Edmunds’ Facebook group, is looking for donations of battery-powered tools, hand tools, and other raw material such as fixings, galvanised metal, plywood and timber.

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