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Police Officers return from hurricane hit British Virgin islands

A donation from the Police Federation meant the officers could buy books & toys for the children. Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

Two Cambridgeshire Police Officers who've returned home from the hurricane hit British Virgin Islands, say they've been left 'humbled' by the experience.

More than 120 people were killed when Hurricane Irma took hold of the Caribbean in August.

PC Den Williams and PC Ross Beesley volunteered to help, along with 50 other officers from across the country and flew out from RAF Brize Norton to Barbados on 9 September.

The officers spent three weeks in the devastated British Virgin Islands Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

Words cannot describe the devastation. We saw 40ft containers that had been thrown around, homes without roofs and what was an island full of lush greenery turned into something like what you would see in a Hollywood movie.

Yet the people were still upbeat. Despite losing everything themselves they were committed to helping others. There was one woman in particular, Janet, who left her own teenage children to come to the aid of those in a children’s home.”

– PC Williams, based in Ely
PC Williams with Janet. Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

We saw it on the TV before we left but you are detached from the pictures and videos. It’s not until you are there that you can smell the sewage in the street, you avoid puddles not knowing if the power cable lying in it is live or not. You are driving round in vehicles that wouldn’t be fit fort purpose in the UK and are witness to many other dangers around you.

– PC Beesley, from Wisbech
Credit: Cambridgeshire Police

The majority of PC Williams and PC Beesley’s time was spent at banks to stop looting and robberies or at supermarkets and fuel stations to prevent panic buying. It turned that out that 40% of the islands own police force were unable to work because of the devastation caused to their own lives.

The best part of the trip was seeing the small difference we were making. Seeing the children’s faces when you presented them with small gifts, playing ball with them. You couldn’t put a price on it.

Being in 40C heat, wearing full body armour and not being able to wash above the neck because of the E.coli in the water was a low. We were living without the basics but we had a roof over our heads, were fed and watered which is more than most had out there.

– PC Williams

The one thing I will take away from the experience was a line from a gentleman who had lost his home, his belongings, everything. He said; ‘I’ve got life and as long as I have that, I can rebuild everything else.

– PC Beesley