AS Hurricane Irma left behind a path of destruction in Florida, one Old Town man lent a helping hand to those most in need during a trip to see his family.

Tom Silberberg is in Florida visiting his father, sister and grandmother and flew out of Gatwick on August 28 – just days before the powerful storm hit the Caribbean.

Staying on the 12th floor of an apartment building in the Fort Lauderdale’s evacuation zone, about 500 meters back from the beachfront, Tom braced himself for what has been described as “one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record”.

“I watch the weather closely when in Florida so I was aware of it at an early point,” Tom, 22, said.

“My first thought was of concern for the already vulnerable communities in Puerto Rico and Haiti who will be most affected by this disaster.

“From Monday, September 4, as the storm approached, people in my area began to calmly, but briskly, prepare to secure their homes then evacuate or prepare for a long wait. We then helped people who had stayed behind to board up, collect sand bags and gather essentials.”

With a drill to hand, Tom decided to lend a helping hand to his neighbours by boarding up windows in preparation for the hurricane, which has killed at least six people in Florida as well as 35 people in the Caribbean.

Despite being downgraded to a tropical storm early on Monday, Irma still caused devastation across Florida, with 70mph winds leaving millions without power for several days.

Tom, who is a digital marketing consultant, hopes to return to his Old Town home tomorrow sep 14 depending on whether airlines have been able to clear the backlog of passengers wanting to fly back to the UK.

“US news coverage was very good overall, the television updates were informative and detailed,” Tom added, after the storm hit.

“Shelter warnings were given emphatically and the dangers were clearly explained.

“News crews had been broadcasting from the shelters and encouraged everyone to try to make it if possible.

“Bus services were offered and many people were offering whatever they could do to help their friends and neighbours.

“If you were not in a shelter the advice was to stay indoors, stock up on water, food and essential supplies and place up shutters or boards if possible.

“A large group of people remained in our building, especially those on higher floors, away from rising water.

“Those on lower floors moved their possessions to higher floors or evacuated completely. Those people stayed with neighbours on higher floors or made their own plans.

“The mood was nervous but resilient. People had a healthy respect for the power of the storm but faith in the strength of the building.”

Apart from losing power, all the residents remained safe.