A British mother-of-two trapped in the Caribbean after hurricane Irma has hit out at Boris Johnson, saying he has “abandoned” British citizens while trying to insist the rescue effort has been effective.
For several days Amy Brown, along with other Brits and EU nationals, has hoped for evacuation from St Martin, having become stuck as the hurricane tore through the region, killing four people on the French/Dutch island and destroying buildings and infrastructure.
Most of Brown’s resort on the Dutch side was destroyed and she said there were reports, on the French side, of men marauding with machetes as law and order collapsed.
Amid growing criticism of the British response, the family’s plight was put to Johnson on The Today Programme on Monday.
The Foreign Secretary said authorities “responded in a timely and highly organised fashion”.
Speaking via WhatsApp to conserve phone battery, Brown, 36, told HuffPost UK: “Boris can tell everyone what a good job he’s doing in British territories but he has abandoned British citizens to other Governments who are helping their citizens proactively and not waiting passively leaving their citizens with no running water and increasing crime.”
Brown said her resort was almost destroyed by the hurricane and its staff had gone back and forth with them to the airport every day, where they waited in vain for evacuation.
She said she had waited for three days, once for 13 hours, as French, Dutch and American authorities evacuated their people.
Brown has contradictory information about which planes would take who, including a French plane that said it would take all EU citizens but then took off with only French passengers because it had been delayed and had to leave quickly.
There is no shelter from the sun and the only food they are provided with is occasional cereal bars, Brown said.
“On the French side (of the island), we have been told of people with machetes going apartment to apartment. People have entered hotel rooms of some of the guests and looting is rife all over the island.
“We are all very worried and it got very emotional when we had to leave the airport. Some people had nowhere to go and had kids with them.”
Resort staff have done their best to protect their guests but will soon close the resort leaving them with nowhere to stay overnight, Brown said.
Brown’s father Geoffrey Scott-Baker, who is in Britain with his daughter’s two small children, told HuffPost UK it was “totally untrue” of Johnson to say other countries were taking priority British cases.
Scott-Baker said: “[Johnson’s comments] were just a load of political waffle, defending the position which the evidence suggests is completely wrong. The British are not responding.
“We do not have embassy or Government officials on the ground. The response is totally inadequate...
“How come the Americans, the French and Dutch can organise that airlift just like that?
“He’s just waffling and defending a position that is indefensible rather than being honest and upfront and saying: ‘Yeah, sorry, the Government has slipped up and we’re doing the best to correct it’.”
Brown is trapped with around 20 Brits and between 100 and 150 EU nationals.
As well as the threat from looters, resort staff have said it will soon shut, forcing them all to move to the airport, Scott-Baker said, adding they were all badly sunburned and without running water.
Scott-Baker added his two grandchildren, a seven-year-old boy and a six-year-old girl, were asking “where mummy is”.
The British relief effort has been heavily criticised since the storm hit.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said on Sunday that a Royal Navy ship had arrived in Anguilla and restored power there but The Times quoted a source on the island saying the electricity was still gone.
Number 10 was also criticised for posting a picture of a floating platform of military vehicles about to disembark to provide relief.
The vehicles were not actually landing on the beach and were taken back to the ship while the aid was delivered by helicopter, The Times reports.
The family of Briton Darren Fry, a 42-year-old captain of a daily charter catamaran in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, also condemned the British response.
His mother Lynette Lock told HuffPost UK on Saturday: “I rang the British consulate and they are next to useless. All they are doing is taking the names of those lost then crossing them off their list when they are found.
“I don’t know what to do or who to contact.
“He has no money, only the clothes he is standing in, no home and at the mercy of friends who still have roofs over their heads and that’s not many.”