Column: Surviving ‘Irmageddon’ In The BVI

April 2, 2018

[Opinion column written by MP Chris Famous]

If one were feeling adventurous they would jump into the water on south shore Bermuda, point their compass due south and head out to open sea.

A mere 1,000 miles later, they would find themselves on the pristine shores of our sister island of Tortola, the main island of the British Virgin Islands [BVI] and home to approximately 30,000 persons. The economy of the BVI is reliant on tourism as the main pillar.

Unfortunately, the BVI and most of the Eastern Caribbean were extremely damaged by two of the strongest hurricanes in recent history – Irma and Maria. In fact, Hurricane Irma was the second strongest Hurricane in Atlantic history and the most powerful ever at time of landfall.

During the month of September 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria – both such strong Category 5 storms that locals suggest a new “Category 6” status is warranted, carved a path of destruction across the region, heavily affecting island such as:

  • Anguilla
  • Barbuda
  • Bahamas
  • BVI
  • Dominica
  • Puerto Rico
  • St. Maarten / Saint Martin
  • Turks and Caicos
  • United States Virgin Islands

For years there have been warnings of the probability of storms of this magnitude and frequency coming to fruition. However, the reality is that there have been countless attempts to dismiss the new norm facing small island states – the new norm of the negative and deadly effects of Climate Change.

Irma and maria

Recently, I was blessed to be invited to a book signing in Tortola. An intimate setting was held at an establishment by the name of Camden Gourmet Market at the Tortola Pier Park that provides healthy, organic food options to persons in Tortola.

Discerning locals and residents stood in line to purchase multiple copies of a book that has been the love child of a native Tortolian. Those same discerning locals and residents stood in awe as the author took centre stage and began reading a select segment of the book she conceived and birthed in the 3 months subsequent to the events precipitated by climate change.

The Irma Diaries serves as a collection of stories of various residents of BVI who survived the worst of Hurricane Irma on the 6th of September, captured by the author based on first-hand interviews with the featured survivors and inspired by a higher purpose.

Signing lines

Ms Angela Burnett has taken a great amount of time and effort to carefully capture the experiences and sentiments of those who lived through what can only be described as experiences that serve as a wakeup call for not just the Caribbean region but the entire planet.

The Irma Diaries was first available electronically on Amazon in December 2017 and is now available locally in hard copy with the goal of making international orders possible very soon.

The hard copy itself is a template of environmental consciousness. True to her calling as an environmentalist, Angela ensured the book was manufactured using the following guidelines

  • Cover Stock: Forest Stewardship Council [FSC] and Sustainable Forestry Initiative [SFI] certified
  • Text Stock: 100% post-consumer recycled paper, FSC certified, processed chlorine free and made with biogas energy.
  • Presswork: Printed digitally with non-toxic inks using wind power

Irma Diaries

After captivating her audience with a short and spirited vocal reading, Ms. Burnett gracefully transitioned to sign books for what could easily be measured as two hours.

Such was the interest in this subject that attendees happily waited in the long line, whilst consuming various variations of organic foods provided by the staff of Camden.

Among the attendees was His Excellency Gus Jaspert the Governor of the BVI, Dr the Honourable Orlando Smith the Premier of BVI and Dr the Honourable Kedrick Pickering, Deputy Premier of the BVI

Signing lines2

With any luck I will get to interview Ms Burnett and allow her to share her own words with the world in the second part of this story.

- Chris Famous, a PLP MP, can be contacted via email at or Twitter at @ryderz777


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