Former Royal Engineer from Norwich helping the victims of Hurricane Irma in Tortola
- Credit: Archant
A former Royal Engineer from Norwich has travelled to the British Virgin Islands to provide much-needed aid to those affected by Hurricane Irma.
Garry Wonnacott arrived in Tortola on Sunday, along with six other volunteers from the humanitarian response organisations Serve On and Team Rubicon UK.
On arrival, the father-of-one was met with scenes of 'utter destruction' after the island was battered by the category five hurricane.
Mr Wonnacott, 48, said: 'These communities are incredibly resilient, but understandably the situation is quite chaotic.
'The communications network is down but within hours of arriving we were able to help by connecting the airport with the Disaster Management Coordination centre.'
The response team landed at Terrance B Lettsome airport on Beef Island late on Sunday night, before getting to work on Monday.
It said the steel-framed hangars had twisted after being struck by 185mph winds, while light aircraft littered the airfield.
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Mr Wonnacott, who served in the Royal Engineers for nine years and has been working with Serve On since 2003, arrived on the island on a Beechcraft B99 turbo-prop plane.
Due to the high winds, and the risk of category four Hurricane Jose threatening to follow Irma's path, all other standard flights had been cancelled.
And it was only thanks to the RAF that the volunteers were able to have their kit transported with them.
Around 500kg of items, including search equipment, tents and water filtration systems were transported to the Virgin Islands by an RAF Airbus A400.
A second Norfolk veteran is also heading out to the islands of Turks and Caicos to assist the local community.
Former Royal Marine, Alistair Ladds, aged 47, from Banham, is part of Team Rubicon UK and was due to arrive on Monday evening.
After landing on Beef Island, the volunteers repaired fencing to secure the airport perimeter and helped residents load their bags onto trucks.
And within 90 minutes, the team had enabled the opening of two departure channels and cleared space for the British military to stack supplies of water and food.
To donate towards the humanitarian operation, visit www.teamrubiconuk.org