Suffolk woman returns from hurricane-ravaged island of Barbuda following aid mission
- Credit: Archant
A Suffolk woman has returned from her aid mission to Barbuda after the Caribbean island was struck by the most powerful hurricane in more than a century.
Alice Bolton, 29, who lives in Elmswell, spent a month distributing tools and building materials to residents after two 20ft aid containers she organised arrived at the storm-ravaged island.
Alice, who has family and friends on the island, has helped to raise more than £23,000 via a GoFundMe page for the relief effort after Barbuda was devastated by Hurricane Irma – a category 5 storm – in September.
The severe storm left 95% of buildings on the island destroyed or badly damaged, as well as its 1,600 residents homeless.
The Suffolk community rallied following news of the disaster and donated money, tools, building materials as well as the containers to carry the aid.
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Alice, who extended her stay on the island by two weeks to oversee the operation, said: “It went really well.
“We were lucky that people were really helpful but it couldn’t have gone any better than it did.
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“People were so grateful for the help, and I was shocked that other than some of the charities, like the Red Cross, I was the first person to bring aid to the island.
“I got some help from local builders because I didn’t want people taking what they didn’t need or materials that weren’t suitable.
“So they were able to assist and help people pick out the right things.
“It was great that people were able to take what they needed for free.”
Alice said there is still a lot of work to be done on the island and only around one fifth of the population had returned so far.
She said: “They are strong people but I think some are still in shock at what happened and when the see the scale of the damage, it’s easy to understand why.
“About 20% of people have so far returned to the island because there is not much to go back to.
“Electricians are working on restoring the power cables but I think it will be a while before electricity is back in the homes.
“It’s hard to know what the long-term plans are really but I think without the media coverage, not as much would have been done.”
Alice added that she may return to the island in January to see how the rebuilding process is progressing.