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Ipswich Sailmakers Shopping Centre manager launches appeal for hurricane-ravaged Caribbean island where family live

PUBLISHED: 16:03 17 October 2017 | UPDATED: 16:03 17 October 2017

Centre manager Mike Sorhaindo

Centre manager Mike Sorhaindo

Picture:James Fletcher

An Ipswich man whose mother had the roof of her Dominica home ripped off by Hurricane Maria has set up a charity appeal for the devastated Caribbean island.

Mike Sorhaindo, who runs Ipswich’s Sailmakers Shopping Centre, spent some of his childhood in the country where he still has many relatives including his mother, Alix, 82, and a sister, Celia, along with her husband Paul.

Dominica and its population of 71,000 was hit by Maria last month, which brought ferocious 160mph winds and torrential rain to the island, flattening its forests and leaving 90% of homes damaged.

Mr Sorhaindo’s mother lost the roof of her home, located close to the capital of Roseau, as she sheltered in a tiny room under the main house during the destructive storm.

It was four “tortuous” days before Mr Sorhaindo, 52, who lives in Felixstowe, could speak to his family because all communications were down.

The Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Team on board HMS Ocean help to clear debris from roads on the Caribbean island of Dominica following Hurricane Maria. Picture: MINISTRY OF DEFENCE The Humanitarian and Disaster Relief Team on board HMS Ocean help to clear debris from roads on the Caribbean island of Dominica following Hurricane Maria. Picture: MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

He said: “I did eventually manage to talk to my mum and sister and it was a godsend to know they were safe and well but so many are in desperate situations there and many remote villages are still without communications. It’s the rainy season now until the end of November and their homes have no roofs and they’re trying to save a lifetime’s possessions.

“My mum and family are in incredibly good spirits despite the adversity and the community is really pulling together and helping everyone.

“The damage is very severe though – even the main hospital, the Princes Margaret, lost its roof and they do need help which is why I have set up a JustGiving website if anyone would like to make a donation.”

Mr Sorhaindo has established the £7,000 relief appeal with his siblings living in the UK.

People on board HMS Ocean as the Royal Navy helps to rescue people from Dominica, which was affected by Hurricane Maria. Picture: MINISTRY OF DEFENCE People on board HMS Ocean as the Royal Navy helps to rescue people from Dominica, which was affected by Hurricane Maria. Picture: MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

Members of Mr Sorhaindo’s family in other parts of the world have also funded and mobilised a team of doctors who are already on the ground getting medical attention to those who need it.

The shopping centre manager came to Ipswich when he was 11. His late father, Martin, was an optician in the town for many years before he and Mr Sorhaindo’s mother returned to Dominica to retire.

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