A TERRIFIED mother had to endure an anxious three-day wait to find out whether her son was safe in the Dominican Republic after he got caught up in Hurricane Irma.

Lee Burden had flown out to the Caribbean island last Friday – just hours after lending a helping hand to residents following a fire at a fish and chip shop in Redhouse.

The 41-year-old, who lives in North Swindon, went on the holiday with his 38-year-old girlfriend Tami Smart.

But less than 72 hours into their break, they were evacuated from their stay at Sensatori Resort Punta Cana as the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma took full force.

Lee’s mum Pat Gale, who lives in Shaw, lost contact with her son three days ago after hearing they were being moved to a ‘safe house’ and since then has been been nervously waiting by the phone for news.

“Lee texted me to say they were going to go to a safe house further inland and I hadn’t heard anything since,” Pat, 70 said.

“They flew out fine and he even sent me a photo of him on the third day enjoying the sun but then everything closed down that evening because of the hurricane.

“They only booked the trip so that the school holidays had finished because he had taken his six-year-old daughter Ella away during that time.

“When I heard, I just panicked.

“I’ve had texts and messages from all of his friends asking how he’s doing as well as Ella’s mum, so I’m trying to keep everyone in the know.

“My heart has been racing all week.

“The fact that he had helped people in one disaster the night before is what gets me.”

Hurricane Irma has caused widespread destruction across the Caribbean all this week seeing hundreds of buildings left to just rubble.

It is understood that nine people have died as a result of the hurricane, although this number is expected to rise over the next few days.

As a category five hurricane, the storm is at the highest possible level and has been recorded as the most powerful in a decade with speeds of 180mph.

The devastating storm is now heading towards Florida, with millions of people warned to brace themselves and head for shelter.

Lee, who is an engineer and plays for the Sabertooths ice hockey team, flew out to the Dominican Republic with airline Thomson, which has been keeping worried families up-to-date back at home while also rearranging flights for people to fly back to the UK.

It is understood that before being moved to the safety point inland, the couple were told to pack all of their belongings just in case they were able to return home and they were also provided with bread rolls and water as food.

After three days of no contact, a relieved Pat received a message from Lee on Friday afternoon, reassuring her that he was alive and safe.

“He’s alive and well and the Thomson rep visited him to say that if the roads are suitable then they would be transported back to the hotel to come home,” she said.

“I’m just relieved to hear that. I have been watching the news 24-7 worrying.

“The main thing is that I know he is safe and hopefully they should be back in the next few days if the weather and roads are ok.”

It is not yet clear whether the couple will return as planned today (September 9) or will have their flights delayed further as a result of the hurricane.