Inspector helps hurricane victims

Team Rubicon unloading tents at Jost Van Dyke island with Rotary International, including Insp Adrian Smiles (first on the left).
Team Rubicon unloading tents at Jost Van Dyke island with Rotary International, including Insp Adrian Smiles (first on the left).

A police officer from North Shields has been helping hurricane victims.

Inspector Adrian Smiles, a British Army veteran, has been helping residents of The British Virgin Islands who were battered by floods in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

He spent two weeks of his holiday helping islandsers who were struggling after the devastating winds and floods.

It was all part of the work by Team Rubicon, a charity which uses the skills of military and 999 personnel to provide relief to those affected by disaster.

Insp Smiles joined a small team to work on projects with the Red Cross, Shelter Box and Rotary International. He was also deployed to Jost Van Dyke, one of the smaller islands which was still without power and running water, a month after the hurricane hit.

He said: “Although we knew the area had been badly affected, it’s not until you see the devastation up close that it really hits you just how dire things are.

“We delivered much-needed humanitarian relief to local people, including tents, water-filtration systems and blankets.

“Just the basic necessities people depend on to survive, many had lost everything in the hurricane.

“We then worked with local people helping them in clearing sites and worked with them putting the tents up, as the area was still suffering from heavy rainfall.

“The community is very grateful for the help we, and many others, are providing and people just want to get on with their lives.”

“This includes getting children back into schooling. This was more difficult as the local school, The Elmore South High School, had also been destroyed in the hurricane.

“Alternative accommodation in an old factory unit was identified and the team built 26 classrooms within the factory.

“We were very pleased to be there when the new school opened for the new term, it was really worthwhile to see how pleased the pupils were to be back in the classroom, the first steps back to a normal life.”

Insp Smiles, a Northumbria officer on secondment to the National Police Federation, is a veteran with team Rubicon. Last year he spent a fortnight of his holidays deployed to Louisiana to assist in the clear-up after their devastating floods.

To find out more visit the Team Rubicon website at www.teamrubiconuk.org