The Royal Bermuda Regiment (RBR) contingent that set out on a Caribbean hurricane relief mission are back home safe and sound.
The 30-strong contingent returned to Bermuda on Thursday evening, where they were greeted at the LF Wade International Airport by Premier David Burt and National Security Minister Wayne Caines.
According to the RBR’s social media links, the regiment’s Executive Officer Major Corey Smalley, the troops were in Grand Turk “working hard to help repair the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Irma, while bracing themselves and the local population for an expected hit from Hurricane Maria”.
And they were “fighting searing temperatures of more than 100 degrees Farenheit and plagues of mosquitoes – made worse by a lot of standing water after Irma hit, while there is no running water or flushing toilets”.
The troops helped to build a logistics base for the World Food Programme on Providenciales before moving on to Grand Turk, where they were “sleeping on the terminal floor without running water or air conditioning and existing on bottled water and field rations”.
“I’ve lived in some inhospitable places, but last night was pretty unbearable,” said Maj Smalley while still in the Caribbean. But he said the Bermuda contingent were welcomed with open arms by Grand Turk residents.
“The reaction to the Bermudians being back on the island after we helped after Hurricane Ike nine years ago has been really positive. When our soldiers are out and about the people speak very highly of the troops where were here in 2008,” he said.
Other restoration projects included “working to fix the severely damaged EL Simons Primary School on Grand Turk”, where Maj Smalley said our soldiers did “a great job clearing out the building, removing rubble and trying to make the building as safe as possible so kids can get back to school”.
“The new-type buildings have suffered a little bit of damage, but older ones with wooden structures and roofs have been hit very hard and people can’t live in them,” he said.
“The local population is in dire need of food and clean water. The majority of the island is without power and running water and that’s caused problems because no one has flushing toilets or clean drinking water. Half of the operation is focused on food and water distribution points with supplies flown in by air or transported on boats.
“The other side is assessment, stabilisation and reconstruction of key places like schools and Government administration buildings – that’s the main effort of the Royal Engineers and the RBR,” he added.
And the troops worked hard to find a safe place for the local population and the RBR to “hunker down” before Hurricane Maria hit right after Hurricane Irma.
On behalf of Bermuda Real – Welcome Home!