After Irma, Barbuda isn't ready for evacuees' return

Ann M. Simmons, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Weather News

"It was something I had to do," Richards said. "Going through such a traumatic experience, it will give families some sense of normalcy. They have a roof over their head."

Cephas' eyes welled with tears as she described the devastation back home, a place where nearly everything was within walking distance -- markets, schools and jobs -- and everybody knew everybody else.

"I'm hoping for Barbuda to be rebuilt," she said. "I'm hoping to get back my house. But for right now, we have no choice but to stay. We miss home, but what do we return to?

"The best thing for us is to stay put in Antigua until we can get something sorted out," she said.

Richards said the family could remain until at least the end of October.

About 320 people wound up in shelters, including the local cricket stadium. But most were taken in by relatives, friends or strangers.

Alaida Deazle and her husband, son, daughter, son-in-law and three grandchildren moved into the apartment on the top floor of Morvel Francis' house.

"When I heard of the terrible disaster ... I was absolutely horrified," said Francis, a 67-year-old social worker. "I just wanted to help as many people as possible."

The Deazles have "become like a part of my family," she said.

"Thank God for Mrs. Francis," Deazle said. "She came just in the nick of time. God sent her."


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