Gov't offers helping hand to west end Tornado victims

Government stands ready to help families left homeless by Tuesday's tornado, acting Premier the Hon. Ann Cartwright DeCouto said during a tour of the stricken area yesterday.


Government stands ready to help families left homeless by Tuesday's tornado, acting Premier the Hon. Ann Cartwright DeCouto said during a tour of the stricken area yesterday.

Dozens of friends, neighbours and family members came together in Somerset yesterday to start the slow task of rebuilding some of the more heavily damaged homes in the Bob's Valley area.

Roughly 25 homes were damaged in the surprise twister that went unnoticed by weather forecasters at the US Naval Oceanography Command Facility. No one was reported seriously injured.

Mr. Lloyd Philpott, 69, was at home with his wife Lucille when the tornado struck.

Mr. Philpott said he could hear the approach of the tornado which left a huge hole in the roof over his living and dining rooms.

"My wife rushed out and said it sounded like a plane,'' he said. "Everything was turning and curling'' when he went to shut the louvred slats on the front door.

Mrs. DeCouto walked through the ravaged area early yesterday afternoon, talking with residents and offering government assurances.

She said the purpose of her visit was to assess the extent of the damage and ensure that the needs of area residents were being met.

"We stand at the ready to help whoever and however we can,'' she told reporters at the scene.

She said the Ministry of Health had already helped provide accommodation for two families displaced by the tornado, but added that she did not expect Government would find itself having to provide money to help residents rebuild.

A significant difference, she said, between Tuesday's damage and that caused by a tornado in St. David's last year, was that each of the homeowners she had talked to were covered by insurance, which would likely reduce the demands for outside help. Total damage estimates are not expected to come in for a few weeks.

Mrs. DeCouto had high praise for emergency relief efforts immediately following the tornado, and was thankful that no one suffered serious injury.

"We were very, very fortunate that no one was seriously hurt or even killed from the damage,'' she said.

Clean-up efforts proceeded quickly in the wake of the storm, with most of the debris being cleared away by 6 p.m. Tuesday by the Government's Public Works and Engineering Department.

"I've heard nothing but excellent reports. The response from the Regiment, the response from the Fire Services, the response from the Public Works department, was almost instantaneous,'' she said.

"People seem in very good spirits. The Bermuda spirit is alive and well.

People are all working together...which is great to see.'' ASSESSING THE DAMAGE -- Acting Premier the Hon. Ann Cartwright DeCouto talks with Somerset resident Carl Roberts in the tornado ravaged area of Bob's Valley yesterday during a tour of the area.

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