The second relief mission from Cayman to Anguilla took off on Tuesday, bringing medical professionals and vitally needed supplies to one of the islands directly affected by Hurricane Irma.
Cayman previously flew aid to Anguilla shortly after Irma struck, and a team of 11 medical professionals had toiled there for the last two weeks. Two doctors and two nurses were flown in on Tuesday to relieve the original medical team and to bring the first responders back home.
Gene Thompson, director of Health City Cayman Islands, was on Tuesday’s relief flight and spoke of the urgency with which the people of Anguilla and other stricken areas need assistance.
“They need all of our help, all of our support and all of our prayers,” he said. “Anguilla, Turks and BVI are all our brothers and sisters, and it’s our obligation to help them, especially in times of trouble. We know what it’s like. We’ve experienced it. And we’ve developed a very close relationship, especially with Anguilla.”
Anguilla’s hospital was damaged by the storms, losing its maternity ward and the roofing in some of the other departments.
McCleary Frederick, director of Hazard Management Cayman Islands, went on the first flight to Anguilla and traveled again to be part of the relief mission on Tuesday morning.
Some areas of Anguilla, he said, are a perfect flashback to Hurricane Ivan. The people have no water and no electricity, and they need any small bit of assistance they can get from Cayman and beyond.
“Hopefully in the next three months or so, they should be pretty much back to normal,” Mr. Frederick said of Anguilla. “That’s when they expect to have electricity back in most places. All the schools are damaged to some extent, so schools are expecting to open on the first or second of October. They’re working really hard to do that. If you can get the kids back to school, get some sense of normalcy, then the parents can get back to doing what they need to do to help with the recovery.”
Dr. Fiona Robertson, who is one of the medical professionals on the trip, will stay for two weeks in Anguilla, assisting local doctors and helping to restore normalcy. Dr. Robertson worked through previous hurricanes Paloma, Ivan and Gilbert, and she looked forward to aiding the community.
“What we do is go in and help the people that are dealing with their stuff,” she said. “They’ve got broken houses. They’ve got no roofs. … It’s really to help the teams over there do their job and have time off if we can get them to leave. Sometimes they don’t want to leave. It’s just extra hands on deck.”
Jennifer Richardson, one of two Anguilla residents who were previously flown off the island to receive medical attention, was set to return to her home on Tuesday’s flight. Her daughter, Denise Huggins, a resident of St. Vincent, said she was thrilled with her treatment and ready to go home.
“She’s been living there for many years, and then she got really sick, so she was brought here for surgery,” said Ms. Huggins. “I just want to thank the government and the people of the Cayman Islands. I really appreciated what they did for her. Now she’s much better and she can go home.”
Beyond the medical supplies, the Cayman relief mission is also bringing Ice and Water Shield, a waterproof adhesive material that will be used to cover Anguilla’s parliament and court buildings and partially cover the police station. The flight is also bringing water and medical supplies.
“They’re getting up and running again and a lot of that is thanks to the assistance we were able to provide beforehand,” Cabinet Secretary Samuel Rose said of the previous Cayman relief mission. “Last night, they had a farewell celebration for the medical staff that went there. They’ve been well received, well taken care of. I commend their bravery, because with [Hurricane] Maria bearing down on Anguilla, they wanted to stay and continue because they realized they were making a difference.”