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Suffolk woman awaiting news of her nieces on Barbuda after Hurricane Irma raises more than £6,000 in less than 24 hours

PUBLISHED: 12:04 07 September 2017 | UPDATED: 18:39 07 September 2017

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

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

A Suffolk woman who is still awaiting news of her two nieces after Hurricane Irma devastated the Caribbean island of Barbuda has raised more than £6,000 to help the relief effort.

In this GOES-13 satellite image released by NASA/NOAA GOES Project, Hurricane Irma tracks over Saint Martin and the Leeward Islands.In this GOES-13 satellite image released by NASA/NOAA GOES Project, Hurricane Irma tracks over Saint Martin and the Leeward Islands.

Ruth Bolton, from Badwell Ash, near Bury St Edmunds, said she is still awaiting news of 27-year-old Afiya Frank – who is seven months pregnant – and her sister Asha Frank, 29.

Ms Bolton’s UK-born nieces were texting their family in Suffolk and London up until 10.30pm on Wednesday night, but they have not been heard from since.

Afiya, who has spent time working with her aunt at Blackthorpe Barn, near Bury St Edmunds, was due to fly back to the UK next week ahead of the birth.

Ms Bolton said: “It’s very frustrating because there is no communication, but we just have to wait.

A woman pushes out floodwaters on her property after the passing of Hurricane Irma, in St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda. Picture: AP Photo/Johnny Jno-BaptisteA woman pushes out floodwaters on her property after the passing of Hurricane Irma, in St. John's, Antigua and Barbuda. Picture: AP Photo/Johnny Jno-Baptiste

“There are some people we know going over in boats from Antigua and they will make a special effort to contact the Franks’.

“We’re all trying to keep busy and watching Antigua news, but if we don’t hear anything by tomorrow night then we will really will start to worry.

“We are a very close family.”

Ms Bolton launched a GoFundMe page, which exceeded its £5,000 target in less than 24 hours, and she is hoping to restore communication to Barbuda with the money after the Category 5 storm ripped through the tiny island.

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

Ms Bolton, a well-known local caterer, who was a judge at the EADT’s Suffolk Food and Drink Awards, said the response of the public to her fundraising page had been “overwhelming”.

She said: “The fundraising has been brilliant. I’ve been overwhelmed with the generosity of people. We’ve now got two satellite phones which we are hoping to get to the island as soon as possible.”

The girl’s parents Claire Frank and Barbudan husband Mckenzie are currently in the UK, but have lived on the island for 30 years.

Mrs Frank said: “I’m very worried about my daughters, until I hear from them, along with all the other Barbudans who don’t know if their houses are intact, who don’t know if their family members have been injured, who don’t know if it’s going to be relief between now and the next hurricane. We want some answers.”

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

To donate, click her to go to Ruth’s GoFundMe page.

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