UNI Family in path of Hurricane Irma
UNI colleagues in the Caribbean give eye-witness reports of the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma
UNI affiliates and members of UNI staff have been caught up in Hurricane Irma which is leaving a path of death and destruction as it crosses the Caribbean. UNI Global Union General Secretary Philip Jennings said that our hearts go out to the victims and all those suffering the effects of this devastating Category 5 Hurricane. The UNI GS said we were staying in close contact with colleagues in the region, including those in the Dominican Republic where the UNI Equal Opportunities team led by Veronica Fernandez-Mendez and Marta Ochoa had been holding the UNI Americas Women Mentorship Programme.
The General Secretary of BIGWU, Trevor Johnson sent this report:
“The Hurricane bore down on Antigua and Barbuda late yesterday with ferocious winds of up to 185 miles (over 280KM) per hour. I spoke with David Massiah of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers Union (ABWU) and it appears that he and his family and Union members are safe but it is still too early to do a full assessment of the damage to property etc. This is a historic Category 5 Hurricane which has the potential for storm surges in excess of 230 mph, extensive wind damage, and heavy rainfall and flooding. Southern Florida is already ordering mandatory evacuation of residents in some areas.
I also spoke with Theresa Mortimer of the Bahamas (BFSU) as the Hurricane is heading that way now. Theresa is in the Dominican Republic on her way home from the UNI Americas Women Mentorship Programme. Her Union already suffered damage from the Hurricane that hit the Bahamas last year and they are still recovering from that damage.
I will also try to communicate with Kavan Gayle of Jamaica (BITU) as that island can also be potentially affected by the Hurricane though it is not directly in its path at this time.”
The BIGWU GS rounded off his report by saying they were preparing for a second destructive storm, ‘Jose’, which was due to hit the region.
The Head of UNI Equal Opportunities, Veronica Fernandez-Mendez also sent a report in from the Dominican Republic which is expected to be hit by Irma today. She said the UNI team had done their best to help secure flights out of the Dominican Republic for affiliates attending the meeting before the arrival of the hurricane but that she, Marta Ochoa and several affiliates were still in the country.
We will update you as we receive new information from our colleagues and join with you in hoping that they stay safe.