“I couldn’t leave. I was by myself. No one came for me,” Edward Lockhart told The Nassau Guardian after Hurricane Irma.
The 78-year-old man spent the duration of Hurricane Irma underneath a tree on Buena Vista Cay in the Bahamas.
Lockhart had no intention of staying on the island for the storm but he said that nobody came to take him away. His boat was being repaired so he could not leave by himself. There are reports that police officers attempted to move him to Ragged Island and he refused to go, but Lockhart told The Nassau Guardian that that was not true.
His epic experience with the hurricane began when Lockhart left his home, which is 50 feet from the beach, and went up into the hills of the island, armed with only a piece of rope. He spent an entire day in the elements as winds whipped went across the island at 185 miles per hour. Lockhart’s only shelter was a tree, to which he tied his rope.
“I had to crawl on my knees and my two hands to move during the storm,” Lockhart said. “I didn’t have any clothes on, just my pants. That’s how forceful the wind was. The sand and the wind were so hard you couldn’t open your eyes.”
When the storm passed, Lockhart went back to his home and set up his bed on his roof. Rescue crews found him there three days later, suffering from dehydration. Lockhart is now on a different island with his family.
“Irma came early one morning and it was chaos from then on,” he told The Guardian.
“I was in my house on Buena Vista Cay.
“After the weather started, I began making preparations to ride this storm out. I had a portable radio and I was listening to the news and seeing what kind of storm this was going to be.
“My main concern was the 15 to 20-foot rise in the tide. Wind factor and rain factor I could handle, but the tide is more difficult than the rain and the wind. So I prepared for the tide.
“I had to leave my house because it was only 50 feet from the beach. I knew that, that was too close.
“I moved out. I took a piece of 50-foot rope, strong island rope. I took some water and went into the hills and I sat myself around a big tree.”
Lockhart said he kept the rope, which was tied around the tree, in the event the tide moved inland.
He said if that had happened he would have “wrapped the rope around my waist so the tide wouldn’t wash me off the island”.
Lockhart is Buena Vista Cay’s only resident.
“I have God with me. I’m the only human though,” Lockhart said.
When asked what the storm was like, Lockhart said, “That’s difficult to explain.
“I was fully in the elements. Rain started coming down, and there was nothing I could do.
“It made no sense that I put on clothes, because you would have been flying in the air like a kite.
“So I had to take my clothes off and walk around in my underpants.
“I had to crawl on my knees and my two hands to move during the storm.
“I didn’t have any clothes on, just my pants. That’s how forceful the wind was. The sand and wind were so hard you couldn’t open your eyes.”
But Lockhart survived.
“After the storm blew over I was there for three days,” he said.
“I said, ‘Someone really should have been to me from Ragged Island’,” he said.
“They all knew I was on the island. Someone really should have been there, but I reasoned within myself that someone didn’t come because Ragged Island went through the same thing I went through. Ragged Island is more damaged than me.”
Indeed, Ragged Island was devastated by the power of Irma. No building or structure was left unscathed.
Utility poles that had been snapped in two were strewn across the island, along with debris from homes, boats and other objects.
The Caribbean was devastated during Hurricane Irma. Some estimate the damage will cost more than $10 billion to repair. At least 42 people were killed across the Caribbean and Florida.