Serve Ons team of disaster response experts are currently sheltered overnight in safe houses on the islands of Tortola and Gorda, having spent the last 36 hours preparing alongside communities for Hurricane Maria to hit.
These team includes some of Serve Ons most experienced members, who have trained and prepared for this type of difficult situation. We’ve been in regular touch with them to make sure we all understand whats likely to happen when communications networks inevitably get interrupted by the storm.
The team are deployed alongside Team Rubicon UK, who are sending further volunteers out to support the effort today. On the ground, Serve On have been working closely with the Royal Marines to ensure that the communities hurricane shelters, some of which were damaged by Irma, are repaired and robust enough to withstand Marias arrival on the islands. The teams have been able to ensure that critical infrastructure like medical centres have been secured, along with stockpiles of water, fuel, and communications kit.
The islanders have shared their extensive experience of surviving hurricanes with the teams, and this really is a joint effort. The conditions are uncomfortable, but the teams are prepared for that. They have moved to safe house locations in structures that remained undamaged in previous cat 5 hurricanes, and have been able to further reinforce them.
We are expecting things to go quiet now as the teams sit out the storm. When they emerge, probably on Wednesday morning, it seems likely there will be further damage to the infrastructure and some of their earlier efforts to get water, electricity and communications networks will probably have been set back.
But at least this time, the team will be there immediately, with the right equipment to get vital services functioning in the days before air links can be resumed. The team includes specialists in telecommunications, disaster response, structural engineering, and search and rescue skills: they are exactly the kind of people that can contribute most in the immediate aftermath.
We are watching the storm closely, and are thoughts are with all who are out there at the moment. But latest communications from the team so far indicate that they are as ready as they can be, and are focused now on preparing themselves for another hard push after the storm passes.
In order to support this deployment and the day-to-day work of Serve On, helping disaster-hit communities around the world and at home, we need the public's help.
Please give what help you can. Any donations would be greatly appreciated.