- Written by FREEMAN ROGERS
- Published: 26 September 2017
The day after Hurricane Maria brushed the territory, volunteers from the United Kingdom aid organisations Team Rubicon and Serve On were cleaning soggy particleboard out of the Adina Donovan Home for the Elderly.
“They’re looking to put tops on it sometime soon,” said Team Rubicon member Ben Colton, gesturing up at the missing roof above his head.
Though part of the home survived Irma relatively unscathed, much of its upstairs section was gutted by the storm after its roof blew off, and the heavy rains during Hurricane Maria exacerbated the situation.
The building is now clean and secure after the volunteers cleaned it out and UK soldiers covered it with plywood and tarp.
The project was one of several initiatives the two charitable organisations have tackled together in recent days.
As Maria approached, they helped board up the emergency shelter in Long Trench, and then they turned their attention to repairing the roof and securing windows at the Multi-purpose Sports Complex shelter even as the storm’s outer bands began to arrive.
But they didn’t have to do it alone.
“I don’t think there’s been a single job that we’ve done and the local community hasn’t pitched in,” Mr. Colton said. “And they’re a hundred times better than us. We’re tiring, trying to get these masonry nails, and then some guy comes along: ‘What you doing?’ Poof, poof. And they’re awesome at it.”
“Essentially they take over,” interjected Mark Gatfield, a member of Serve On.
“Yeah, and we stand there and hand them nails,” Mr. Colton laughed.
Team Rubicon began arriving in the territory the day after Irma. After meeting with government agencies and local groups such as Rotary, the organisation — which is composed mostly of UK military veterans — got to work.
They were joined on Sept. 14 by members of Serve On, which specialises in search-and-rescue operations after earthquakes but responds to other disasters as well.
“This particular role, because there wasn’t a search-and-rescue need, we then worked with our partners Team Rubicon to assist with more humanitarian kind of relief work,” Mr. Gatfield explained.
More volunteers are on the way. As of last Thursday Team Rubicon had ten members on the ground, but more than 30 more were coming soon, according to Ellie Mckay, a documentary filmmaker who serves as the group’s public information officer.
Serve On sent about half a dozen volunteers, who have been working closely with Team Rubicon.