Robert De Niro pledges support for storm-stricken Barbuda
Hollywood actor Robert De Niro appeared at the UN last month to appeal for help on behalf of Caribbean island Barbuda, which has been completely levelled by Hurricane Irma. De Niro, who recently invested in a new resort on the island, has personally pledged to help in the recovery effort.
Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro visited the United Nations recently to appeal for help on behalf of hurricane-blighted Caribbean island Barbuda. The Hollywood star, who plans to open a luxury resort on the island, asked the UN to ensure “paradise is not lost” in the wake of Hurricane Irma, which completely devastated Barbuda in early September.
In his speech De Niro said we have a “humanitarian crisis – an entire island destroyed” and acknowledged that the road to recovery will be long and hard for Barbuda.
But he said:
“Barbudans must be part of it – their homes repaired stronger, rebuilt stronger, new homes stronger. The immediate needs – power, water, food, medical care, animals sheltered – must be met.”
De Niro’s plea to the UN followed his recent statement to New York Daily News pledging to work to rebuild Barbuda:
“We are beyond saddened to learn of the devastation in Barbuda caused by Hurricane Irma and look forward to working with the Paradise Found Nobu team, the Barbuda Council, GOAB, and the entire Barbuda community to successfully rebuild what nature has taken away from us.”
He told the New York Daily News the day after the hurricane.
Hurricane Irma – the most powerful Atlantic storm on record – wreaked havoc on the island, breaching Codrington Lagoon, which is a sanctuary for rare birds and marine life, inundating the island with rain and sea water, destroying 90 per cent of buildings, including schools, shops and medical facilities, damaging the water supply and knocking out power completely.
The recovery and rebuilding effort is estimated to cost around $300 million.
De Niro’s personal interest in the island stems from frequent visits and the decision to invest in building a resort – Paradise Found Nobu – on the site of Barbuda’s old K Club Resort, which closed some years ago. The exclusive K Club – situated on miles of undeveloped white sand beach – once played host to Princess Diana and the princes.
The plan for the new resort already included a deal with islanders to invest in a donkey sanctuary, transform a government building into a heritage museum and finance a sustainable development assessment for the island. Barbuda’s residents directly own the land and have been historically protective of the island, blocking major tourist developments and stopping sand mining, which it deemed harmful to the environment.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Governor General, Rodney Williams, told the UN meeting that the hurricane’s:
“Ferocity forever changed the landscape of Barbuda, and as the sun rose the next day the destruction was horrific.”
The entire population has been moved to Antigua and
“For the first time in over 300 years, there is today not a single human being living on Barbuda.”
To donate funds to Barbuda or volunteer in the recovery effort visit Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross’ website: http://abredcross.org/disaster
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