Alex Neill: What to do when disaster strikes - advice to anyone caught up in hurricane chaos

The destruction that severe weather events have wrought across parts of America and the Caribbean over the last two weeks has been horrific to behold.

Thursday, 14th September 2017, 2:08 pm
Updated Thursday, 14th September 2017, 2:15 pm

Hurricanes Irma and Jose and Storm Harvey have taken lives and destroyed homes in Texas, Florida, Antigua, Barbuda and Anguilla to name just a few places where they struck.

Meanwhile in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, devastating floods have claimed over a thousand lives and left millions of people homeless.

And, of course, there have been earthquakes in Idaho and Mexico.

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In the midst of such apocalyptic scenes there will be people desperate to get back home to the UK: holidaymakers, travellers or business people who have found themselves stranded.

While their plight might seem secondary to those who have lost family and livelihoods, they still need support in getting home.

According to one travel firm, Thomas Cook, there were 5,700 British people in Florida, 4800 in Cuba and 1,500 in the Dominican Republic as the storms raged.

And it sent 18 members of its Special Assistance Team to Cuba and the Dominican Republic to help customers.

Hundreds of flights were also cancelled to and from the affected regions and sea cruises were re-routed.

British Airways offered a “waiver” to anyone booked to fly to Antigua, St Kitts, Punta Cana, Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos, and Nassau before September 10, allowing people to choose to travel to a different Caribbean destination or delay the flight to another date before September 30. A similar offer applied for passengers booked to the four Florida airports BA serves.

Virgin Atlantic said any of its passengers booked to travel to, from or through Antigua, Havana, Orlando and Miami before September 12 could switch to an alternative date or destination travelling on or before October 14.

While the travel firms have been helpful it’s worthwhile remembering that although there’s no compensation for cancelled flights in such extraordinary circumstances like these you are entitled to the meals, refreshments, accommodation and hotel transfers depending on the length of your flight and delay.

So while getting home might be your utmost priority, remember your travel company and flight operator are there to look after you too.

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