SEATTLE – As Floridians prepare for the wrath of Irma, some people in our area are already dealing with its aftermath. Several players and the head coach of Sounders FC 2 are from the Caribbean, including Barbuda. That island nation is now depleted after the eye of the storm ripped through it.
The prime minister of Barbuda says 95% of its buildings were damaged by Hurricane Irma with the number of dead expected to rise.
“When you’re on the island you really can’t evacuate too many places unless you leave the island, if you can afford to. So most of the people just have to stay there and prepare as well as they can,” said Sounders FC 2 head coach Ezra Hendrickson.
Hendrickson is originally from St. Vincent and Grenadine. His island nation was largely spared by Irma.
“It’s devastating, you know? It’s a very small island so any amount of excessive water or rain and stuff like that, it can cause a lot of flooding,” said Hendrickson.
But Barbuda didn’t fare as well. The tiny nation is just 1,200 miles from Miami and is home to Javorn Stevens, who was just picked up by the Sounders.
“He’s just 18 or 19 years old so he’s very young. First time being away. I spoke with him once I saw the alerts that it was on its way and the path and that it was going to go through,” said Hendrickson.
Stevens and several other players see that their home countries on the news have been damaged by Irma and have been struggling to connect with their loved ones as phone lines and electricity are scarce.
“I spoke with his mom earlier today and just making sure everyone is alright. No one of his family or family members got injured. Everyone is fine and everyone is safe,” said Hendrickson.
All Stevens, Hendrickson, and others can do now is watch the reports on the news. With a match this weekend, the big task at hand may prove a welcomed distraction.
“We’re fighting for a playoff spot, but that pales in comparison to what people are going through right now. You have to do your job but in the back of your mind you still think about it. You’re still worried,” said Hendrickson.
The rebuilding is what’s next and many of those nations were already struggling before the story. The big worry now is Hurricane Jose, which is following in Irma's path.