Sat, 16 Sept 2017
A WEST Berkshire woman survived Hurricane Irma – only to be left stranded on the island she had been holidaying on.
It was only through the decision of a kind-hearted French pilot that led Amy Brown to be reunited with her family in Burghfield on Wednesday after enduring howling winds, blazing sun, dehydration and hunger.
The mother-of-two was visiting friends in St Maarten when the category 5 storm struck the Caribbean island.
The island was pummelled by 185mph winds, which Mrs Brown said sounded like a braking high-speed train being played through a speaker at Reading Festival.
She said: “The rain was horizontal. It was pretty scary.
“French doors were blowing into the bedroom.
“The roof was caving in, whole families were hiding in the closet. Whole rooms flooded, water was being driven by the hurricane under the doors.
“The tiles were vibrating and I thought they were going to fly at me.”
The storm is reported to have killed at least 14 people on the island and 200 others are believed to be missing.
Seventy per cent of the buildings on the Dutch side of the island were destroyed.
Mrs Brown said that 95 per cent of her hotel had been destroyed.
The front of the building had fallen off, leaving rooms exposed to the elements and people climbing down the debris.
Cars and oil tankers had been over-turned and all but one boat moored in the lagoon had sunk.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve seen it post-hurricane before, but never seen it like that,” Mrs Brown said.
“We were extremely lucky – some people lost their homes.”
Left without water and power, some people resorted to collecting buckets of rainwater to wash in and food was running out fast.
See this week's Newbury Weekly News, out now, for the full interview.