Hurricane Irma - How OCC Members Can Help

Hurricane Irma - How OCC Members Can Help

A message from Commodore Anne Hammick

By Anne Hammick - 11/09/2017

There can be few members unaware of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma during the past week, and most will have seen horrific photos of the devastation stretching from Barbuda in the southeast to the Florida Keys and beyond, where the hurricane is causing havoc and destruction as I write. We can only be thankful that Hurricane Jose appears to have hooked further north and has not followed the same terrible path.

Many of you will have sent donations to one of the major charities - OXFAM, UNICEF, Save the Children - but others may prefer to assist an island or area in the northern Lesser Antilles of which you have particularly good memories. In my case this is Barbuda, where we spent an idyllic few days in May 1985, now totally devastated and with its entire population of 1400 (most of whom are now homeless) evacuated to neighbouring Antigua. Conditions are just as bad in many of the other Leeward Islands.

Members who've visited our website or Facebook pages recently will have seen links to various area-specific donation sites, and also read how fellow cruisers are already offering to assist in practical ways once the hurricane season is past, with yachts heading south from the US East Coast or westwards across the Atlantic carrying relief supplies to the stricken areas. It'll be a while before this can begin, however, and in the meantime the most practical thing most of us can do is to donate to one or other of the appeals.

For members in the UK wishing to help the residents of Barbuda - many of whom have lost everything - the options are to make a cash donation to the Rebuild Barbuda Appeal Fund set up by the High Commission for Antigua and Barbuda here - or, if you live in Essex, to donate items for Kestrel Shipping to transport to the islands at no cost - click here for more details.

Members outside the UK who would like to donate to the Barbuda Relief Fund in US dollars or euros will find full details here. Finally, the San Diego-based Waitt Institute has established the Barbuda Recovery & Conservation Trust Fund to accept US tax-deductible donations. They state that 100% of monies donated will go directly to Barbuda and its people.

Further northwest, Sir Richard Branson has set up an appeal for the British Virgin Islands - one of which he owns - through Virgin Unite. Donations can be made in either sterling or US dollars, with 100% of all donations going to aid and relief for the BVIs.

Finally, the British Red Cross has launched an appeal for funds for their overseas branches in Montserrat, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, and the Turks and Caicos, where they already have volunteers on the ground providing first aid, shelter and water to those in most need. Donations can only be made in sterling, but the first £3 million received will be matched by the UK Government.

Finally, I hope all our members, Port Officers and friends escaped harm during this horrific onslaught from Hurricane Irma. As we all know, boats and houses can be replaced, lives cannot. To help the many who've lost their homes and livelihoods to Hurricane Irma, please consider what you can spare and don't delay in sending it. Thank you.

Very best wishes,

Anne Hammick

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