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‘Since the Hurricanes of 2017, I have not seen one politician’- Helen G. Penn

-Senior citizen Mrs. Penn continues to suffer with leaking roof, no basic utilities
September 29th, 2018 | Tags: Hurricanes Irma and Maria Helen G. Penn
Mrs. Penn describing her living conditions with no water, no electricity and no help from Government. Photo: VINO
Mrs. Penn’s living conditions is very poor and the New York Times article is accurate. Photo: VINO
Mrs. Penn’s living conditions is very poor and the New York Times article is accurate. Photo: VINO
This photo demonstrates some of the outdoor catchment that Mrs. Penn must use to harvest water. Photo: VINO
This photo demonstrates some of the outdoor catchment that Mrs. Penn must use to harvest water. Photo: VINO
HORSE PATH, Tortola, VI: The average Virgin Islands (VI) resident would be shocked to see the condition of the place Helen G. Penn calls home. Even more shocking is that such conditions still exists following the destruction of Hurricanes Irma and Maria since 2017.

It speaks volumes to how the Territory’s seniors are treated and how many of them continue to suffer in silence.

The story was first broken by the New York Times in an article dated September 24, 2018, about the condition of 74-year-old widow Mrs. Helen G. Penn of Horse Path on the main Island of Tortola, a year after Hurricane Irma.

Our newsroom reporter made a visit to the home of Mrs. Penn whose husband died a few years ago. Accompanying the visit was political aspirant Julian Willock whose company owns this news site.  

“I wanted to see for myself if what the New York Times was reporting was accurate, before I placed a call to one of their correspondents who happens to be a friend” Mr. Willock said in an invited comment. Willock’s track record is one where he consistently defends the Territory against unfair and inaccurate characterization from the international media.

Shocking conditions for Mrs. Penn

The conditions as described by the New York Times (NYT) is real. In an exclusive interview with Mrs. Penn, she described her situation including lack of help, water, and electricity, making mention that she never received a visit from Government Officials.

Mrs. Penn who is originally from Montserrat, but living on Tortola for over 30 years said while she has no potable water nor electricity, the roof also leaks. The home, built in the 80’s was uninsured and now as a result of the power situation food preservation is impossible, bringing a new burden of having to buy food sometimes daily. 

Following the killer storm that took the roof of her home, Mrs. Penn showed us a room she shared with family members to ride out the category 5 Irma in a quest for survival. A white roof tarp still covers the home she shares with her son and a sick relative, noting that even after the New York Times article, not one elected official came to see her.

No help from Government

What remains alarming is her confirmation of receiving “no help from Government”, she did however state that a Non-Governmental Organization helped with a temporary solution for her roof crisis. “I was also promised help under the roof programme from Rotary, but a year later, I am still waiting” she said.

Mr. Willock who was also on hand said “I am in disbelief…I would have thought at least after the New York Time article someone would have reach out, as there are programmes under the Ministry of Health and Social Development to help our most vulnerable.”

Mr. Willock said the living conditions of Mrs. Penn brought tears to his eyes and with the loss of her roof, it also affected the spouting. The solution now is to use buckets around her home to harvest rain water.

The suffering is real

Once she cooks, the family must now consume all the food to prevent spoilage and until the roofing situation is fixed, power will also not be restored to the home in accordance with safety policies.

BVI Electricity Corporation notes that if the roof of a customer is compromised or still detached, they cannot reconnect power due to safety concerns. Until then, Mrs. Penn must now live without modern essential appliances such as a refrigerator.

Whenever it rains, living conditions also worsen in certain parts of the main home, however, Mrs. Penn remains humble and optimistic for help having filled out government forms and given a number to call.  

To date, Mrs. Penn has had her story told by the New York Times, and the issue being raised on “Honestly Speaking with Claude O Skelton-Cline” who was also on site.

“Nothing, no help no one came” she cried, hoping that by having her plight retold something will now happen to bring relief to herself and the immediate family.

Please see link to NYT article of September 24, 2018.

39 Responses to “‘Since the Hurricanes of 2017, I have not seen one politician’- Helen G. Penn”

  • Guest (30/09/2018, 01:19) Like (25) Dislike (27) Reply
    Of course you would not have seen them since the hurricane they all retreated to their Florida homes until election season kicked off. Now every cockroach coming out of months of hiding. St. Thomas immigration at the airport knows most of the BVI political candidates and some sitting on a first name basis. They come every couple days and head back to their homes in Florida, that is who BVI people want representing them. Then you hear them on the radio talking horse sh@@ about shop local, they could never relate because they don't regularly deal with the inflated prices or lack of consumer protection. Walmart, Dolphin mall and Sawgrass Mills Mall don't give them those issues.
  • Sad, but true (30/09/2018, 03:28) Like (34) Dislike (9) Reply
    Good luck Mrs. Penn! I empathize with you. They are not helping anyone, whether you lost your home or business. They only want to know your business/story so they can talk about and laugh at your situation when they turn you down. Survival in this country is for the fittest.

    For those who can afford to insure their homes, I understand that insurance gone helter skelter through the ceiling. So life in these island will only get worse, bc insurance will now drive up the cost of living for residents who are already struggling. Sad, but true.
    • Say it again. (30/09/2018, 21:34) Like (12) Dislike (0) Reply
      The struggle is REAL!!! House Rent going raise. Insurance not playing. This is madness. Nobody to turn to but Jesus!
  • voter (30/09/2018, 07:44) Like (15) Dislike (22) Reply
    Why the surprise? As a non voter, she is a non person to the politicians. I await the comments telling her to go home if she does not like her situation.
    • @voter (30/09/2018, 12:37) Like (25) Dislike (2) Reply
      Mrs Penn, even though she was born in Montserrat, is the widow of a Belonger and she herselfhas her BVI citizenship. Be that as it may, I will correct the article to say that she's been here for.over 50 years. I know her from my childhood and her children who were born here are older than me. The worst part of this situation is that one of her daughter's are down syndrome and she was also born here in the late 70s. Where is our help and concern for our disabled and elderly. Our system is messed up and we need to do better.
    • guy hill (30/09/2018, 14:45) Like (11) Dislike (13) Reply
      @voter. Your ignorance is Bliss.
      • voter (30/09/2018, 16:50) Like (7) Dislike (19) Reply
        @guy hill. Why? We all see the contempt for those without the correct lineage. Sounds like it’s even worse. She can vote yet is still treated this way.
        • guy hill (01/10/2018, 06:26) Like (9) Dislike (4) Reply
          Tell me about contempt again. They level it at who navel string bury here as well.
  • Caramel Diva (30/09/2018, 08:17) Like (64) Dislike (19) Reply
    So right after a hurricane NY times came. What the aspiring politician expected then. Then to this date she Ms. Penn in the same situation. Before the aspiring politician make this news, why don’t he help the lady. He and the Honestly speaking host. Goverment can’t do all. Start being a leader from now.
    • Jaigon (30/09/2018, 09:11) Like (19) Dislike (27) Reply
      @caramel Diva, yes Government cannot do all they can do what’s in their best interest by giving out handsome contracts to their big friends so that they can get their cut backs. To hell with the poor man/woman. A Government surely in the sun shine.
    • SMH (30/09/2018, 09:22) Like (3) Dislike (1) Reply
      EXACTLY!
    • Reader (30/09/2018, 15:42) Like (10) Dislike (2) Reply
      THEY CANNOT DO ALL BUT LET ME TELL YOU EIGHT MILLIONS IS A LOT TO GIVE AWAY THAT MONEY WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO HELP THE PEOPLE AND WHAT ABOUT THE MATERIAL THEY LEFT SPOIL ON THE CAY. OURS FINGERS ARE NOT THE SAME LENGTH. MY HEART ACHE WHEN I READ THIS WE MUST OURSELVES IN OTHER PEOPLE SITUATION SOME PEOPLE HEART LIKE STONE BUT THE LORD SEND RAIN FOR THE JUST AND THE UJ JUST.
  • Outlaw (30/09/2018, 08:18) Like (15) Dislike (34) Reply
    What ah Government. Restoring the Pier Park was more important than anything else. Once the Pier Park is ok, to hell with everyone and everything else. We got a Government we voted for. They have the nerve to come again asking us to re-elect them. People please wake up, this NDP Government cares nothing about the poor people in this country. Let me ask you my people this. Was a wall around the High School, was given away 7.2 million to BVI Airways, was overspending 45 millions at the Pier Park more important than building the senior citizens home up at Spooners. Well asked the NO DARM PRIORITY (NDP) those questions and get their answers before you even think of voting for them again.
    • Outlaw (30/09/2018, 16:10) Like (11) Dislike (37) Reply
      Yes the NDP bloggers are out disliking positive and truthful comments. I saw one of them some days ago, she had a laptop and a phone pressing dislike continuously, what a job she have. One person pressing dislike a million times takes nothing away from the facts. Dislike it or not NDP must go. What make matters even worst is that the people of the BVI will be completely out of their mines to make Myron premier of these islands.
  • wize up (30/09/2018, 08:36) Like (13) Dislike (2) Reply
    those we choose to elect should begin focusing on home-affairs: the main focus currently is foreign affairs while the people suffering: I was always thought that charity begins at home
  • jack (30/09/2018, 08:59) Like (16) Dislike (27) Reply
    Thanks wilock you got my vote you are a defender of the people
  • Bvi islanders (30/09/2018, 09:04) Like (19) Dislike (25) Reply
    Are we trying to blame or looking help from the government for everything ? I myself in a similar situation like this and i try to get on my feet one day at a time . Is it that she want the government to help build over her house ..i waiting patiently to see this for i am a bvi islander and not one day they help me .. she need seeks help from her church red cross that only helping expacts while the bvi islanders on them own no help . Ms lady sorry but I can't go monsterrat and expect your gov to help me . Not to change this topic Mr minister stop bringing in these expacts children filling up our public schools and no space for our own where did the law went .you need to stop it children that never live here yet getting in to our public schools easy as 123. Nonsense
    • wize up (30/09/2018, 14:13) Like (9) Dislike (2) Reply
      @ BVI islander: understand your concerns but let me get your honest feedback: almost 10 million dollars of the people’s tax money gone to a set of white folks for an aeroplane: another chap from New Zealand stands to pocket over 30,000.00 each month of your tax money: only the negro folks in this territory are put on blast while we kisses the backside of the non-blacks!!!(holla if you hear me!!!!)
    • Jaigon (30/09/2018, 16:15) Like (19) Dislike (1) Reply
      @ BVISLANDERS. This is the same kind of mentality voter warns about above, people got offended over her comments, but I guess she knows how bad minded some of us can be. If you can help yourself do that, if the poor lady needs help and help comes, be glad for her.
  • Street reporter (30/09/2018, 09:27) Like (9) Dislike (14) Reply
    From all I have heard and seen the governor has more interest in helping us poor suffering people than our own people government.. The governor often spoke of assisting the sufferers and the vanurable and labour Laws to protect workes in time of disasters.. Maybe if England take over we may see better.. These politicians new and old.. Greed.power .. Power Greed.. No true love for people..
  • Jessica Jones (30/09/2018, 09:53) Like (9) Dislike (6) Reply
    I read her story on the MSN news page the other day. Now here she is on VINO. The BBC News convinced her. SMH.
    • Come on (01/10/2018, 18:12) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
      This dear lady did not call BBC or VINO and she's not looking attention. She was asked questions and she answered and it ended up in the news. Youall need to stop
  • Curious. (30/09/2018, 10:09) Like (29) Dislike (6) Reply
    If she has a son living there why cant he do some repairs . Once government starts giving a new roof to one person they should give it to all . Where is the money coming from. Yes they wasted millions in the last 6 years but that was before Irma . Today is a different situation and too many people need help and government can't do it all. People got to start to help themselves .
    • Infuriated (01/10/2018, 06:54) Like (47) Dislike (1) Reply
      If government is not for us who are they for.

      How can we be overspending millions, giving more to rich contractors, foreign consultants. Basically hand outs.


      Yet have very very little to hand out to THE PEOPLE, wow.

      I personally will love to see people struggling get hand outs, as the whole country was put under a burden.

      People who had insurance are still not fully covered for the extent of their repairs. And there are people who had no insurance. There are many buildings which are still "blown up". DO we suppose helping to renovate these peoples places is overspending, or an 'evil' hand out.

      What is the government there for if not to assure security and prosperity. Are they there to waste our money to make fancy moves that seem like its doing something, bi-water , airport, THE WALL, all these fancy things with no vision for how the people will prosper as individuals.

      All it takes is a new minor disaster, a few lay off/business closures and we will then realize once we lose security, peace of mind, and prosperity, that it is the individual that matters, not the people who are willing to waste big money playing house and admiring their structures, while they cant even find their dollies.

      And for those people who say where is this womans family ect ect. read the comments, and Learn to stop judging peoples situation.


      it is mentally sick peoples first reaction to a cry for help is to think/say "where are her people". wow.


      if anyone of them were to be assaulted for their life in a dark alley and cry out for help, would they want onlookers to say/think "where are their people? that man/woman is being assaulted, he/she must have some friends near by who will assist him".

      reflect on the level of bad mind being put on display within everyone whose first thoughs are where are her family/son ect ect.
  • HAHA (30/09/2018, 11:10) Like (16) Dislike (5) Reply
    Delores hasn't been able since she was a teenager yet the people reelected her after she admitted that she didn't accomplish much in her previous term. You cannot realistically expect success by rewarding failure.
    • Horse Path (01/10/2018, 14:57) Like (0) Dislike (0) Reply
      I really don’t know why they keep re-electing Deloris waste of time even to stand in line to vote for that woman
  • question (30/09/2018, 12:08) Like (19) Dislike (8) Reply
    Where’s her family? Government has the high school to rebuild and other things to fix.
  • E. Leonard (30/09/2018, 13:10) Like (13) Dislike (1) Reply
    The New York Times Tuesday , Sep 25 2018 article—-It’s ‘One Tough Year’ As Islanders Struggle To Return to Normal—-was good yet painful read. It tells us that there are many residents still struggling and hurting a year after Hurricane Irma, a monster Category 5 storm, walloped the BVI, changing lives and changing circumstances. Though government cannot and shouldn’t be expected to do everything, in a time of disaster as that inflicted by Hurricane Irma, it must rally to the aid of suffering citizens. Retail politics is a core ingredient of effective politicking. Before, during and after the storm was the time to employ retail politics. Listen to the cry of residents crying out for basic assistance.
  • lodger (30/09/2018, 14:12) Like (8) Dislike (7) Reply
    Something wrong here. The article says she lives with her two sons. Are they under the same roof? They must be adult so why arent they doing something? Why were they not interviewed? I sympathise with the lady must there must be others in the same predicament.
    One thing for sure. BUY ADEQUATE INSURANCE!
    • @ lodger (30/09/2018, 20:20) Like (10) Dislike (2) Reply
      I hope you fix your parents roof. Her child is down syndrome. The other has to make sure his mother and disabled sibling eat and has a basic salary.
      • lodger (01/10/2018, 02:15) Like (3) Dislike (3) Reply
        Thanks for clarification. This should have been mentioned in the article.
  • Just wondering (30/09/2018, 15:36) Like (11) Dislike (0) Reply
    Is the NBVI giving out small loans for home repairs at a low rate? If not this should be considered.
  • lone ranger (30/09/2018, 21:59) Like (14) Dislike (0) Reply
    where are the children of these parents why is it that government have to meet everyone needs regardless of who u are I can remember growing up in the bvi when everyone use to help each other we were unselfish and a proud people always helping oneanother after a disaster no one use to be left out I guess that's out the door since government made it easy for us to rely on them.This is election time so everyone whoes hat is in the ring can see now all the bad problems that we are facing the people of the BVI better be careful what we ask for
  • ####### (30/09/2018, 22:07) Like (8) Dislike (3) Reply
    The Government cannot do everything. Heard a man the other day in the supermarket telling another man he is waiting for the Government to build him a concrete house because he was born here. I laugh because the Government does not have the budget to build anyone a concrete house. The man was talking like he is entitled.
  • look around (01/10/2018, 03:51) Like (9) Dislike (2) Reply
    while this is very distressing, there are others in even worst condition around. There is a BVI family living in a tent in town for the past year with no help from government or family. Some of our families are heartless. Some have the means and resources to assist but sit by and watch them suffer and grovel daily. Where is our heart,. Where is our humanity.
  • oops (01/10/2018, 06:59) Like (4) Dislike (0) Reply
    Don't worry everyone will see them soon
  • Very important (01/10/2018, 07:12) Like (7) Dislike (3) Reply
    It might be rough but you have to find a way to get home owners insurance. The ones that said homeowners insurance was to expensive or just did not see the need for it, ends up in more expense if something happens to their home. Homeowners insurance is very important to have.
  • to (01/10/2018, 14:27) Like (6) Dislike (1) Reply
    Thanks vino heard everyone now is in the lady's face offering help the power of vino and the nyt


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