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Teacher’s business destroyed by hurricane

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Happier times: lifeguard teacher Dean Bottomley with some of his previous pupils

A lifeguard teacher has been left “heartbroken” after being hit with an eviction notice shortly after his school’s building was decimated by Hurricane Nicole.

Captain Dean Bottomley said he was unsure what the future held for the West End Lifeguard Academy at Daniel’s Head, one of five businesses operating in the defunct 9 Beaches resort.

Hurricane Nicole pummelled the island on October 12, with the Category 3 storm bringing torrential downpours and winds of up to 120mph.

The morning after it passed, Mr Bottomley checked on the Sandys building and spotted a broken window, but did not venture inside.

When he returned to the site two days later, the Somerset resident “never imagined” the devastation that awaited him within.

“Part of the roof was lost and the ceiling had caved in,” he said.

“I was totally amazed. Everything that you needed to teach a classroom was in there — lifesaving equipment, first-aid kits, televisions, course records and more,”

On November 7, Mr Bottomley then discovered that he and his neighbouring four business owners were being evicted by site owner the Bermuda Land Development Company.

The BLDC said that the would-be developer, IRC Sandys, had sublet the properties without its knowledge or consent, and ordered the business owners to vacate their respective premises by December 9. Mr Bottomley, who moved to Bermuda from San Diego in 2007, has been training lifeguards in the building for almost seven years.

Classes take place from April to August, with groups of three to seven people completing 48 hours of training to receive their certification.

“It’s a passion I’ve always had, bringing a challenge to youths and giving them something viable to use,” Mr Bottomley said.

The American Red Cross instructor is still cleaning up inside the academy several days a week, as well as trying to salvage whatever equipment he can.

“All the decking on the pier has been torn up too.

“It’s not safe there right now, and it’s going to take a lot of work to repair everything,” he said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen up there. But I would like to thank the sponsors who have donated equipment and supported me over the years.”

Francis Mussenden, CEO of the BLDC, said: “Coming to this decision was never an easy option and it’s one that we’ve diligently tried to avoid over the last year.

“Having exhausted all our options, we’re disappointed to be left with no other choice but to move forward with the eviction.”

A BLDC spokeswoman added: “Once the property is vacated, the BLDC will be able to thoroughly assess all the buildings on the property and take the appropriate actions required.”

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Great damage: the West End Lifeguard Academy at Daniel’s Head after Hurricane Nicole hit