The Gazette spoke to James Wingrove, from Langtree, who is in the Caribbean with RFA Mounts Bay, about how North Devon troops are helping clean up after Hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria.
Troops from North Devon have joined the clean-up operation in the Caribbean after two devastating hurricanes.
Hurricane Irma completely decimated many of the smaller islands last week and last night (Monday) Hurricane Maria hit, causing a second strike of devastation.
Chief Executive Officer James Wingrove, from Langtree, is currently in the Caribbean, along with 20 members of 24 Commando from Chivenor, with Royal Fleet Auxiliary Mounts Bay.
His role is to co-ordinate relief efforts from the bay-class auxiliary landing ship dock.
Mr Wingrove said the devastation to the islands he had visited was ‘unimaginable’ and that it will take the islands years to recover.
“The islands have been decimated by Irma with some islands having over 90 per cent of the buildings damaged,” he told the Gazette.
“When we first arrived the populations were obviously in shock and those that did have access to media were understandably worried as Hurricane Jose was following two days behind Irma.”
Mr Wingrove said the Mounts Bay crew has visited several of the islands to support UK overseas territories.
He said: “We have supplied water, food, shelters and building materials to Anguilla as well as helping to repair the hospital roof and a number of hurricane shelters.
“In addition ship’s engineers repaired leaks at the island’s fuel storage depot.
“In the British Virgin Islands we have supplied water to the hospital to keep the dialysis machine operation; ship’s engineers restored power to Virgin Gorda; and we have supplied stores to help the population.
“We have been into St Croix twice to uplift further relief stores and personnel and are currently returning to support further islands.”
Mr Wingrove urged people to support the NGOs helping with the recovery operation and added: “It is going to take years for these islands to recover as the scale of devastation is unimaginable.”