Belfast Telegraph

Stories that highlight deadly power of Irma

Editor's Viewpoint

the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma is seen clearly from the extensive television coverage, but nevertheless it seems so far away.

However, the reality is brought home to us when we read the stories in today's Belfast Telegraph about the ways in which this storm has been affecting the lives of people with close Northern Ireland connections.

The island of St Martin, west of Barbuda, was right in the eye of the storm, and Stephen Thompson - brother of BBC broadcaster Noel Thompson - lives there and was directly affected.

Despite taking precautions, the roof of his house and the hurricane shutters were destroyed, and the hurricane was followed by torrential rain which flooded the area.

We also report that Nattassa Latcham, a native of the Caribbean but now working in Northern Ireland, has been told that "things are really bad back home".

It is in these kinds of personal stories that we realise the fear of people living in the affected area, and their continuing anxiety about more damage that might be caused by yet another hurricane that is on its way.

At times such as these there is evidence of great courage on the part of those people who come to the rescue, and who share their food, shelter and other resources with those badly in need.

These include the professional rescue services, including the US Coast Guard, which has the unofficial motto: 'You have to go out, but you don't have to come back'.

No doubt there will be a large humanitarian effort both locally and on a wider scale to help rebuild the lives of those so badly affected, and to bring some practical help, as well as offering comfort and reassurance.

This help will include food and drinking water, as well as essential medical services.

This is a catastrophe for many people, but hopefully they will not have to face their many challenges entirely alone.

As is so often the case, in the worst of times we witness the best of human nature.

Our attention is concentrated on the damage and distress in the Caribbean, but we must not forget either those people nearer home who have been badly affected by floods in the west and north west of this province.

They, too, have been trying to cope with the enormous setbacks they have had to face, and they are also in our thoughts at this time.

Belfast Telegraph

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