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Cosme’s story: surviving Hurricane Ike

The remaining foundations of a house© InfoThe night Hurricane Ike hit the Turks and Caicos Islands, Cosme went to seek shelter at a friend’s house just across the road from his home. During the hurricane, the windows were boarded up so they couldn’t see what was happening outside. Once the hurricane was over, Cosme immediately opened the door to look for his house. It had been completely flattened.

Cosme looks at the patch of land with some tiles on the ground and a few pipes coming out of a corner. “It’s all gone,” he says. “I found my fridge about 50 metres away from the house. My clothes, the water cistern, my TV – it’s all blown away.

“I had no idea how devastating Hurricane Ike was going to be. All I’d taken with me the night of the hurricane were the clothes I wore to go to my friend’s house. Luckily, I was visited by Red Cross volunteers who gave me clean clothes, water and food.”

Red Cross shelters

For three days, more than 30 Red Cross volunteers worked incessantly on Grand Turk, running two shelters in which people sought refuge from the hurricane. Some people who’d lost their homes had to stay in the shelters even after the hurricane was passed.

The volunteers worked round the clock making sure everyone had food, water and clean clothing. Once the shelters were closed they distributed items such as jerry cans for collecting water and water purification tablets, to ensure people had access to drinking water.

Father John has been a volunteer with the Red Cross for the past 18 months. He said: “People in Turks and Caicos have never been in such a situation. They’ve never experienced a hurricane before. We are helping people here as much as we can, the needs are great and we are all doing our best.

“Together we have been distributing items such as tarpaulins to temporarily repair roofs – these have been really useful as it has been raining after the hurricane and many roofs are damaged.”

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