Eli Fuller is a member of the Antigua Atlantic Rowing team, “Team Antigua.” He, along with his teammates, traveled to Barbuda earlier this week to help with the Hurricane Irma relief efforts.
According to Fuller, they filled the boat to capacity with food, water, and other supplies and sailed toward Barbuda to offer their assistance where needed. He said on Facebook that the team’s boat was one of the first to reach the island after Irma’s 185 mile-per-hour winds wreaked havoc.
Fuller said the people of Barbuda seemed to be in “good spirits;” he was surprised at the fact that he didn’t come across anyone in a panic.
However, according to the Daily Mail, Fuller said Barbuda looks as though it was hit by a bomb:
“I don’t know how there was only one fatality. I mean I always knew Barbuda people were tough but that was amazing. I don’t know how they did it.”
Fuller met the woman who was with the 2-year-old child who perished during the storm. The woman described the harrowing moment to the group of volunteers, he explained:
“One of the first people we talked to happened to be this poor lady. She came down to the dock and she was wrapped up in a bandage all over, her face had been busted in. She said, ‘Yeah, you know I was the lady who lost the child.'”
The woman told him that during the storm, she had one arm wrapped around a pole, while her other arm was holding onto the child as the roof was torn off and the walls caved in, Fuller said in a second video:
“She says the wind just pulled the child out of her hands and that was the last they saw of the child.”
The following morning, they found the child’s lifeless body on the ground. Hearing the story left all those listening in tears, especially Fuller, who has a five-year-old child himself.
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne told the media that 95 percent of Barbuda has been “reduced to literally rubble.” Over 60 percent of the population is now homeless.
“The entire housing stock was damaged… Some have lost whole roofs. Some properties have been totally demolished. … It is just really a horrendous situation.”
The prime minister added that Barbuda is “barely habitable.” He said the government has set its sights on getting those in need help as they wait to see if the island is also in the path of Hurricane Jose.
According to the Miami Herald, Irma is expected to hit Florida Saturday night.