Since the passage of hurricanes Irma and Maria numerous persons have died from what is being referred to as post-traumatic stress that was caused by the disasters. At least three legislators mentioned the unusual amounts of deaths since September.
During the House of Assembly on 13 December it was noted that besides the deaths that were directly caused by the hurricanes, a number of others that followed are linked. Although the point was raised first by at least two other members of the House, Minister for Health and Social Development Hon. Ronnie Skelton announced that there were over 60 deaths since the storm.
“Since 5 September, just under 70 persons have died and there are quite a number of others who are challenged,” Hon. Skelton confirmed following the comments of his colleagues.
The point that the deaths are a result of post-traumatic stress was made by Ninth District Representative, Dr. the Hon. Hubert O’Neal. The Ninth District Representative told the House: “By my count we have lost about twelve persons just in Virgin Gorda and Anegada alone since the storm…I believe firmly that a lot of the deaths that we have had, not just in my District, but throughout the Territory, especially for our seniors, was as a result of the stress, just the sheer impact of the stress of dealing with Irma and Maria and its aftermath.
Dr. O’Neal explained that the condition experienced by some in the Territory is similar to what soldiers who have been to war experience: “It is similar to a condition that we in the medical community call Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). Seeing that we have individuals, seniors who are in their 60s, 70s and beyond, they are already frail in their bodies and also too in their minds so this event was even more catastrophic for those individuals and that is why I believe we are seeing these extraordinary number of deaths that we are seeing after the storm.”
The Ninth District Representative also listed the names of some of his constituents who died following the storm.
Although At Large Representative, Hon. Archibald Christian did not list the names of the persons who he knows died following the hurricanes. He did announce that he has the names of 30 persons whose funeral he attended. In fact the At Large Representative said that these funerals spanned from September to December.
In making the point that the deaths were related to the hurricanes, Hon. Christian said: “When we do a post-mortem on 2017, we would perhaps come to the conclusion that a lot of the deaths over the last few months were somewhat related to hurricanes Irma and Maria and I am hoping and praying that we have no further storms in the very near future that will cause so many persons to move on to the great beyond.”
Opposition member and Third District Representative, Hon. Julian Fraser also alluded to the high number of deaths since the hurricanes during the sitting. The Legislator told the House: “The aftermath of Irma is still upon us. I submit to you that more than 90% of the people who are dying right now is as a result of Irma. If Irma didn’t get you one way it is going to get you another.”