Our humanitarian response workers were yesterday stepping up their help for the hurricane-hit people of the British Virgin Islands.
Even as the first team of Serve On and Team Rubicon UK volunteers continued their well-received efforts on Virgin Gorda, another team landed and a third team was on its way.
Disaster response and communications experts from the two charities, working in collaboration, had already completed important assessments of the damaged infrastructure and of the needs of homeless islanders taking refuge in shelters.
They were also producing thousands of litres of vital drinking water from Serve Ons portable water filtration unit and providing a command and control hub for the island’s own impressive recovery team of local volunteers.
Even Sir Richard Branson had used our communications team to confirm that the military at Beef Island airport, Tortola, were correctly directing the flights full of aid that his staff had organised.
A second combined wave of Serve On and Team Rubicon volunteers arrived on Tortola from Antigua yesterday afternoon and quickly moved by boat to join the original team at their base of operations in ‘The Valley’ area of the Virgin Gorda capital Spanish Town.
A third wave from Antigua followed on a later flight, having completed an assessment over the devastated island of Barbuda in order to help inform the response there. The entire population of Barbuda has been evacuated, and images from our assessment show widespread damage to infrastructure, with pets and livestock now running feral.
This team arrived with more supplies of equipment, arriving in Tortola too late to beat the nightly security curfew and move on to Virgin Gorda. They were, however, well-placed at Beef Island overnight to help with any arriving aid deliveries this morning (Saturday) and to link in with the community led response to find out where their skills can best be put to use.
Serve Ons Mark Gatfield described “as we banked around to land at the airport we were greeted with scenes of devastation, boats thrown inland, houses destroyed. All of the trees in the surrounding hills look like they were bulldozed over. The airport here has been damaged but is still standing enough to receive us and to send others home. There is incredible support from a very resilient community within the island”.
Meanwhile, four of the first wave of volunteers were making their way home after an exhausting nine days and a job well done.