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Time ticking for island residents

NG Business Editor

Published: Aug 24, 2011

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Time is ticking for the tourists and residents on the Family Islands this morning as the reality of Hurricane Irene hits home.

After long hours of "anticipation", Alex Rivera, the manager at Club Med in San Salvador, said that there is still so much to do.

“We’re really busy right now. People are being given food and we’re sending people to their rooms. The weather is definitely starting to take a turn for the worse,” he said, breathing heavily on the phone this morning.

“We feel it changing.”

Last night, Rivera said Club Med arranged a charter flight to evacuate more than 160 French guests off the island. The resort tried to hire a second charter to evacuate the other guests, but to no avail.

He said 274 people still remain, no more, no less, including 89 Italians and 185 Americans.

During a Category 3 hurricane, every person must be accounted for.

“People are staying calm right now,” Rivera said.

“They have food, games and flashlights. We’re just trying to work fast here.”

Meanwhile, on Long Island, Shavonne Darville, the owner of Gems at Paradise resort, doesn’t have to worry about taking care of guests.

“Before the airport closed, people started to leave,” she told us this mornign. “They are all gone.”

Peering outside, Darville added that the ocean was definitely starting to “get rough”, although she remained hopeful that the worst of the hurricane would pass her by.

The main concern, she said, is the lack of medical facilities on the island. Long Island has very basic clinics, often with one doctor or nurse for the entire area. The lack of resources was one of the main reasons she encouraged her guests to evacuate.

“I’m just hunkering down now and preparing for it to hit,” Darville said.

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