‘Total devastation all around’: Man who survived Hurricane Irma on the British Virgin Islands by hiding behind a baby changing table speaks of disaster in paradise – and claims prisoners were LET GO after storm blew in jail’s doors

Saturday, September 9, 2017
By Paul Martin

Paul Exner has detailed his experience on British Virgin Islands during hurricane
He said he and his family hid behind baby changing table and tied windows shut
Sailing firm president said island of Tortola has become ‘apocalyptic wasteland’
Richard Branson’s son Sam has made an appeal to boat owners to help bring aid
In a video, Sam said he is preparing for ‘harrowing’ experience as he heads back
Richard, meanwhile, said the islands have been ‘decimated’ and need aid now

9 September 2017

A man who holed up in his house on the British Virgin Islands as Hurricane Irma raged outside has spoken of his terrifying experience – and said the Caribbean paradise has become an ‘apocalyptic wasteland’.

Paul Exner, president of expedition firm Modern Geographic Sailing, detailed his desperate fight to survive as 175mph winds battered his island home.

He said he lashed his windows tight with old dock line while he and his wife and young children hid behind a baby changing table ‘as glass and rock flew into the glass eventually breaking pane by pane’.

Paul added: ‘We sang Christmas songs and ate peanut butter sandwiches with Eoin (who is three and a half) and Ava (nine-months-old). My wife Liz is an amazing person. Too much great things to say about Liz, but she is the love of my life.’

He also claimed that the prison on the island of Tortola had been blown open as inmates were kept back by an armed guard until being ‘let go’.

There are also many people who have been left homeless, he said, as well as reports of deaths.

There is currently no way of confirming Paul’s claims, but other residents on the British Virgin Islands have relayed similar accounts.

He added that there is a 6pm-6am curfew in place as communication lines remain down and the island begins the task of recovering from the storm’s damage.

In a video he recorded, Paul appears in the car park of a hotel using a ‘mobile connectivity box’ rigged up to a car battery.

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