Holiday-makers caught in hurricane horror

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A Burnley journalist and his partner were caught up in the aftermath of Hurricane Fred while holidaying in Cape Verde.

Edward Lee and Janette Holden, who is volunteer centre co-ordinator at Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale CVS, were staying at Riu Touareg Hotel Resort in Boavista, one of the largest islands in Cape Verde, when the hurricane struck on Bank Holiday Monday.

Edward Lee.

Edward Lee.

The resort is about 1,000 miles south of the Canaries and 400 miles off the West African coast and Hurricane Fred, a category one hurricane, was the first to hit the islands for around 150 years. It arrived in the early hours and in 12 hours of devastation many islanders lost their homes as they live in little more than shanty towns.

Riu Touareg has about 2,000 guests and structurally suffered little damage. Many guests helped in the clean up and remarkably once the storm had passed there was little disruption to the holiday.

Edward, who is deputy content manager with the Burnley Express, said: “We woke up on the Monday morning and all the windows were rattling and you could hear a really strong wind. Outside the palm trees and coco fronds were all bent at right angles and heavy rain was horizontal. It was like opening the curtains on a disaster movie. We had to stay in the room for several hours until it had passed. When we got outside we could see extensive damage to the gardens, some of which looked they had been turned into moats. The hotel suffered some flooding but everyone worked really hard to get everything cleared up as quickly as possible.

“On the beach some of the parasols anchored in with great plugs of concrete had been ripped out and dumped into the sea. Nobody in our hotel was injured but staff lost their homes and the beach restaurant where we had enjoyed a sunset dinner the previous evening no longer exists.”

It was like opening the curtains on a disaster movie

Edward Lee