A police inspector has just returned from helping with the relief efforts of a storm-damaged community in America.
Inspector Adrian Smiles, vice chairman of the Northumbria Police Federation, was one of a team of seven volunteers for disaster relief charity Team Rubicon UK deployed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, after August’s catastrophic storms.
Adrian, a British Army veteran from North Shields, gave up two weeks of his holiday to help the charity, working in temperatures of more than 100F with 98 per cent humidity.
Adrian said: “Manual labour in 90 degree heat and 95 per cent humidity might not sound like everyone’s idea of fun, but the chance to work with Team Rubicon again was a privilege.
“We worked initially on a house owned by a couple in their 90s, assisted by their daughter and two friends.”
“Needless to say, the common language we thought we shared was put to the test, especially trying to explain my Geordie accent! Questions included what type of fish was in fish and chips and what was malt vinegar?
“The teams changed daily as new volunteers arrived and others departed and we rapidly made progress on the houses allocated to us.
“The Government promised $15,000 to residents who remained in their homes and we were told that each house cleared by Team Rubicon saved the householder $20,000 – a lot of money to people without flood insurance.
“We continued to work for ten days and cleared numerous houses which will allow them to dry out and repair work to begin.
“Our efforts were small in comparison to what people had suffered and it will take months, if not years for the communities to recover. I’ve made a huge number of new friends and am looking forward to the next deployment, wherever that may be.”