Rugby woman returns to town after surviving Hurricane Irma by hiding in a shower cubicle for 36 hours

The aftermath of the storm
The aftermath of the storm

A Rugby woman who survived the devastation of Hurricane Irma by hiding in a shower cubicle with her boyfriend for 36 hours has arrived safely back in the town.

Erin Breen, 31, moved to Tortola with her boyfriend, Skyler Shah, five months ago for work.

The devastation left behind

The devastation left behind

They had settled into their villa when they began to hear warnings of a force three hurricane approaching the island.

She said: “We were expecting it to be a force three hurricane.

“There was talk of evacuation but we had no idea how bad it was going to be.”

Erin said when she and her boyfriend found out the hurricane was going to be a force five, they began making preparations.

The inside of a villa after the storm

The inside of a villa after the storm

They stockpiled bottled water and chose their bathroom to use as a shelter, barricading it and blocking the room’s window with their car.

Erin said they first noticed the storm had hit on the night of Tuesday (September 6) and decided to seek refuge in the bathroom.

She said the pair woke up to the hurricane howling outside at full force on Wednesday morning.

As the storm first passed, she said they could hear damage being done outside but said the pair were not overly frightened.

Erin said the storm left little untouched

Erin said the storm left little untouched

When the eye of the storm came above the island, Erin said the couple were able to venture outside their villa for ten minutes – to see the storm had devastated trees and buildings.

She said it wasn’t until the far more powerful second wave of the storm that the pair began to fear for their lives.

The couple huddled together in the cubicle, which had by then flooded, while the storm: “whipped our furniture around the house and made our ears pop.”

After surviving on bottled water and ham sandwiches for 36 hours, they left their villa at around 3pm Thursday, September 7.

Erin said the storm left little behind, destroying the roads and leaving their part of the island cut off.

The two survived for several days by scavenging for food and sleeping in different villas while watching for looters.

Erin said being stranded at the airport for days was the worse part of the ordeal and criticised authorities for not making better preparations.

Now back in Rugby, she is keen to raise awareness for www.bvirelief.com, which is assisting in relief efforts on the island.