Our volunteers get to grips with “unrelenting” devastation after Irma

It’s been non-stop for the team since they arrived in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. They’ve been clearing roads, shifting downed electricity poles, assessing community centres and listening carefully to residents who are desperate for help and information in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Here’s what ex fire and rescue officer and Team Rubicon UK Operations Manager Dan Cooke had to say about conditions on the island:

“The devastation across the country is unrelenting.  Nowhere has escaped the extraordinarily powerful winds. Mile upon mile of debris has been scattered, without a single leaf left on any of the trees. Trees, cars, trucks, air-conditioning units, super yachts, speedboats, everything is randomly scattered across the island,” he said.

TR Operations Manager Dan Cooke is currently leading a joint team from Team Rubicon and Serve On in the British Virgin Islands

“The marinas have boats floating upside down, masts broken and some stacked on top of each other.  Likewise, the hills have carcasses of cars hanging off the sides of the steep slopes. The small roads, which wind their way around the island, are covered in debris, and the ones adjacent to the sea have been totally washed away. Telegraph poles lay scattered at different angles along the roadside with wires hanging perilously from them,” he added.

Our team, working side-by-side with Serve On, went out on Monday to assess community centres on the island. On the way, they were pulled up short by a telegraph pole lying across the road, and were told that ahead of them the road was totally blocked. So they got to work and with help from keen residents, a way was opened.

Dan clearing a way through with members of Serve On

“It was a monumental effort and very worthwhile to re-open the pass,” Cooke said.

A big concern is the lack of information: 90 percent of the island is without mobile communication and most people are locked in an information vacuum.

Cooke said: “It is evident that the Team Rubicon UK and Serve On team are the first out on the ground and 90 percent of the population are absolutely delighted to see us. They have no electricity, no running water, they are short of food and essential supplies but are working together to clear up,” Cooke said.

“However, in some locations, it seems that disorder is starting to take place with evidence of small-scale looting. There is also a shortage of fuel across the island, resulting in cars queuing for what looked like hours.”

“The hills have carcasses of cars hanging off the sides of the steep slopes”

General Sir Nick Parker, chair of Team Rubicon UK, had high praise for the volunteers.

“I am always overwhelmed by the response from our Team Rubicon volunteers. They drop everything at almost no notice and they have raced to the Caribbean to help others in extraordinarily challenging circumstances and where there is dire need. It is very rewarding to see how much their efforts have been appreciated by other relief agencies and the residents of the islands. I am very proud to be part of Team Rubicon.”

Hurricane Irma slammed into a string of Caribbean islands last week, killing at least 40 people before making its way to Florida. Winds of up to 185 mph battered homes, destroying up to 95 percent of buildings in some places and knocking out power and communications. The damage is estimated to cost billions of dollars and European nations have sent military reinforcements to help stricken residents and keep order.

We are hoping to get more volunteers onto the ground in the coming hours: we have a team trying to get to Turks and Caicos from the Dominican Republic, and another group left London this morning en route to Antigua. Thanks so much to British Airways and Airlink for making that happen. Another team is also heading into the region from New York.

We need your help to make the most of these incredible people. Please donate to our Emergency Appeal here

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on print
Close Menu


Mozambique Cyclone

Personal Info

Reclaim Gift Aid

Gift Aid It!Add 25% more to your donation at no cost to you. A Gift Aid declaration allows Team Rubicon UK to claim tax back on eligible donations. It means that for every £1 you donate to Team Rubicon UK we can claim back 25p, at no extra cost to you.

By ticking the "Yes" box, I agree I would like Team Rubicon UK to reclaim the tax on all qualifying donations I have made, as well as any future donations, until I notify them otherwise. I understand that if I pay less Income Tax and/or Capital Gains Tax than the amount of Gift Aid claimed on all my donations in that tax year I may be asked to pay any difference. I understand that Team Rubicon UK will reclaim 25p of tax on every £1 that I give.

What is Gift Aid?

Gift Aid does not cost you a penny more, but can add an additional 25p to every £1 you donate. When Team Rubicon UK receives a donation from a UK taxpayer, we're entitled to claim an amount of tax (calculated at the basic rate of income tax in that year) paid on that donation. Once you have given your permission for us to do this on your behalf, there is no need for you to do anything else.

All that is required is that you must be a taxpayer and that would have paid or will pay sufficient Income and/or Capital Gains Tax to cover all the Gift Aid claimed on all your donations in that tax year. Please note that it is your responsibility to pay any difference.

The amount of tax we claim will be 25% of the total value of your donations in that tax year. Furthermore, if you are a higher taxpayer, you are also entitled to claim the difference between the basic rate which we will claim and the amount of tax you have actually paid. For further details on how you can do this, please contact your tax office. If your tax situation changes and your gifts will no longer be eligible for the Gift Aid scheme please contact us and we will amend your record accordingly.

Take me to my donation »

Donation Total: £10.00

Team Rubicon UK has an advance party in the air on route to Mozambique in the wake of Cyclone Idai.

With estimated affected people now in the millions, we anticipate that our response teams will be working to get aid and water into the most remote, cut-off communities and using our disaster mapping capability to assist our partners.