It is the first time in living recorded history that two hurricanes with winds over 150mph have formed in the Atlantic. And two Hull families have spoken about their ever growing worry at not being able to get hold of their young families who are currently trapped on Cuba in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Melanie Young, of James Reckitt Avenue, east Hull, says she has spent two days “frantic with worry” as her 18-year-old daughter, Emily, has been told to “put a mattress against the window and hide in the bathroom” of a hotel in Cuba.“I can’t get hold of any information about her and nobody seems to know where my daughter has been taken,” said Ms Young.
“I must have called hundreds of times over the past two days and every number I ring nobody can give me any information.
“The branch of Thomas Cook in Bransholme, where they booked the holiday, were really lovely but just couldn’t find any information. Nobody seems to know a thing.”
Ms Young managed to speak to her daughter in the early hours of Saturday morning after she called from a landline telephone, but since the storm has hit the island all communication signals are now down.
Emily, who was enjoying a two-week holiday with her boyfriend Harri Waites, 20, was staying in a hotel in Cayo Coco, a tropical island in the Jardines del Rey chain, off central Cuba.
However, after being told they would be flown home early, they are still trapped on the island.
Ms Young said: “Emily told me they got a note at the hotel on Thursday saying to have their bags packed and a rep would be with them from 9am. At 10.30am one finally turned up and they were put on a coach.
“There were ten coaches all with a police convoy, but they were on it for ten hours without any food or drink or even toilet stops, and were not told where they were going.
“[All I know] is she is at a hotel on the north coast of Cuba, and has been told to put a mattress against the window and hide in the bathroom.
“But I’m just so worried that nobody from Thomas Cook can tell me any information about where she has been taken, and I only know Emily is safe because she managed to get hold of me herself.”
This is a story echoed by grandmother Sharon Green, whose daughter, son-in-law and 13-year-old grandson are also stranded.
“Thomas Cook have been absolutely rubbish”, she said.
“Nobody knows where my family are. They were put on a nine-hour coach journey and even then other travellers had to get involved because they didn’t have everyone’s right names and the coaches refused to travel.
“My daughter said there has been fighting in the hotel and they were told they were being evacuated four times before they were. There was a bus crash on their way to the next hotel, and when they finally got there the Canadian embassy had already evacuated all of their people.”
Mrs Green says she has called Thomas Cook “millions of times”, as well as the British Embassy in London and Cuba, but was told she had to speak directly to the holiday reps on the island.
“There are no Thomas Cook reps on the island,” she said. “My daughter hasn’t seen a single one. All the hotel staff had started to leave before they were even put on the coaches.”
Mrs Green tried to book flights on Tuesday for her family to travel home, but says Thomas Cook suspended the purchase of any tickets.
“This could all have been prevented if they had extra flights,” she said. “My daughter keeps saying she wouldn’t know what to do without Kaiellis, my grandson.
"Apparently he has been so mature and keeping all the younger kids entertained with volleyball matches. He’s just been so brave.”
Hurricane Irma is a category five storm that has already devastated several Caribbean islands, and has hit Cuba on its way to Florida. At least 20 people have died in the Caribbean and now Cuba faces the biggest hurricane in decades.
A hurricane warning is currently in effect in the provinces of Camaguey, Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus, Villa Clara and Matanzas.
(Via Hull Daily Mail)