Antigua and Barbuda woke up to a sombre morning as a fire engulfed the Yacht Club Marina in English Harbour, along with several businesses in Falmouth Harbour. This unfortunate incident occurred simultaneously with heavy rains, lightning, and widespread flooding caused by Tropical Storm Philippe.
According to ABS television/radio, the fire affected establishments including Skull Duggery café, Yacht Club Marina Gym, Cloggy’s, Dock Master Office, and Dockside Liquor. Prime Minister Gaston Browne took to social media to express his gratitude that no serious injuries were reported and to offer words of encouragement: “Giving thanks that no one got seriously hurt. We have been spared the worst. As a resilient people, we soldier on.”
The luxury yacht Alfa Nero had been relocated before the storm hit, avoiding any damage. However, Prime Minister Browne noted that the Yacht Club Marina, where the Alfa Nero was docked, was completely devastated by the fire. The destruction of several businesses has resulted in at least 100 job losses, adding to the sadness and economic impact suffered by the community.
Meanwhile, Antigua and Barbuda faced the aftermath of Tropical Storm Philippe, with the National Office of Disaster Service (NODS) reporting over 30 requests for search and rescue operations due to widespread flooding across the islands. Emergency 911 informed the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) about stranded residents in Bathlodge and on the Airport Road who had to be rescued, many of whom were travelling late at night.
Numerous homes in areas such as Piggotts, Cassada Gardens, and the vicinity of the Potworks Dam experienced flooding, and emergency personnel provided assistance to affected residents. In one incident, a bus became trapped in floodwaters in the Golden Grove extension area.
District Disaster Coordinators volunteering on behalf of NODS reported flooding in several other areas, including Upper Fort Road, Grays Farm/Green Bay, and various communities. Some individuals have sought refuge in shelters located in different districts.
While emergency responders continue their rescue efforts and firefighters battle a major fire at the Yacht Club Marina in English Harbour, they face the challenge of strong wind gusts hindering their progress.
Authorities are urging residents to remain indoors until given the all-clear signal, as there is a high number of people driving on the roads despite the hazardous conditions. With floodwaters and debris posing risks to individuals’ safety, it is vital for everyone to take necessary precautions and await official instructions to ensure their well-being.
Antigua and Barbuda now face the task of recovery and rebuilding in the aftermath of both the devastating fire at the Yacht Club Marina and the impact of Tropical Storm Philippe. The resilience and unity of the community will be essential in overcoming these challenges and restoring normalcy to the beautiful Caribbean islands.