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Hurricane Irma: Oswestry couple honeymooning in Cuba describe 'horrific' storm

By Sue Austin | Oswestry | News | Published: | Last Updated:

An Oswestry couple honeymooning directly in the path of Hurricane Irma say they asked to be evacuated four days before it wreaked havoc.

Julian and Russ Raymond-Sandy form Oswestry and a view from their hotel room

Julian and Russ Raymond-Sandy spent 36 hours on lock down in their hotel in Cuba and are now bracing themselves for the arrival of another category four hurricane, Jose.

They say holiday company Thomas Cook should have acted to get their customers off the island and say the lack of information has been "disgraceful".

The couple, who own the Last Inn at Hengoed near Oswestry, were married at the end of July and flew to Cuba to stay at the Playa Costa Verde, north of Holguin.

The trip of a lifetime turned to worry when they heard news of the brewing storm and they contacted the tour operator.

Julian, 37, said: “We asked to be evacuated four days ago but were told to stay put as they said they couldn’t evacuate 2,000 people.

“The Thomas Cook rep said no information was good information and not to panic."

A PA graphic of Hurricane Irma's path

Mr Raymond-Sandy said it was a terrifying experience.

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“We were locked in from 10pm Thursday and we were allowed outside on 9am Saturday,” he said.

“The winds were so strong the building was shaking and the sheer noise was horrific. The rain lashed against the glass patio doors - it was so scary. Palm trees were bent, anything that was loose was flying about.

“We would never wish this experience on anyone and yet we have another hurricane on its way.

"There is another serious alert of 21 foot waves and local flooding. Thomas Cook again is again not giving us anymore information, they are an absolute disgrace.”

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Russ, 40, said that while the travel company had been no help at all, the staff in the hotel had been wonderful.

He said family and friends had also been a great support.

“We have a huge network or support it's been amazing,” he said.

The couple said the area had got away lightly compared to other parts of the Caribbean.

“The worst was having no information. They cut off the internet and English speaking TV so we couldn't see what was going on,” Julian said.

“We were so lucky that we have a friend who works in the hurricane centre, Jayne Young. She was able to give us information and in turn we could let the other holidaymakers know what was going on.”

A spokesman for Thomas Cook said:" We are grateful to our customers for their patience during what is a concerning time for many.

"Please be assured that the safety of our customers is always our first priority. All of our customers in the region are in hotels which have been built to withstand a hurricane. This is the safest place for them to remain as the hurricane passes through the region.

"We are sending an additional 16 Special Assistance Team members to Varadero, and we continue to work with the local authorities to make sure all of our customers are as comfortable and well-informed as possible."

The Foreign Office has set up a hotline for people affected by the disaster and for people whose loved ones may be affected, on 020 7008 0000.

Sue Austin

By Sue Austin
Chief Reporter

Chief reporter of the Oswestry/Mid Wales office. Keen to hear your news.

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