UK Joint Task Force head says territories ‘moving back towards normality’ after Hurricane Irma devastation

 TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Oct. 8, CMC – One month after the most powerful hurricane in decades pummeled the Caribbean, head of the United Kingdom (UK) Joint Task Force, Chris Austin, says life in affected British Overseas Territories is “moving back towards normality.”

“We have had a month of extensive emergency relief – stopping people from getting blown away, and giving them basic shelter and basic foods,”  Austin told the British Press Association.

UK joint task force “Through to schools now reopening, airports and ports are functioning, hospitals functioning, power is being reconnected, the water supply fixed – all of those things we have helped with, largely with the brilliant military effort,” he added. “So, the next stage is how we are going to get the economy rebooted.”

Austin said across the Turks and Caicos, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the territories “are in different ways, open for tourists,” adding that hotel bookings and cruise ships are starting to “line themselves up.”

“It is moving back towards normality, but it is still pretty rough; and there will be people in all of those territories who have got it worse than others.”

At least 38 people were killed in the Caribbean by Hurricane Irma, with the weather  also blamed for manydeaths across the American states of Florida, South Carolina and Georgia.

Less than two weeks later, the region was rocked by a second major storm, Hurricane Maria, which narrowly missed hitting the affected British Overseas Territories with full force – but decimated Dominica and Puerto Rico.

To date, the UK government has pledged £57 million towards hurricane relief efforts, and announced an additional £5 million in financial support for the island of Dominica.

More than 132 tons of UK aid has also already arrived in the region and at the peak of relief efforts, there were more than 2,000 UK military personnel working in the Caribbean – “making it the largest deployment of British troops anywhere in the world.”

But Austin said that the military response is now “drawing down”, stating: “They will have pretty much left by the middle of next week.”

UK International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, who visited the BVI and Anguilla days after Hurricane Maria barreled through the Caribbean, said there are “signs of daily life getting back to normal.”

“Our UK Task Force is now working with the governments of the overseas territories to help them get on with the vital reconstruction work and to make sure the islands are built back more resiliently than in the past, so a future hurricane won’t be as devastating,” she said.

But, with the hurricane season set to run into November, Austin warned that the recovery is “still quite fragile” and another major storm could “reverse” any progression.

“If there is another hurricane, we are ready to respond as quickly as we did to Irma, which I think was a quick response rather than a slow response,” Austin said.

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The Montserrat Reporter - August 18, 2017

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 TORTOLA, British Virgin Islands, Oct. 8, CMC – One month after the most powerful hurricane in decades pummeled the Caribbean, head of the United Kingdom (UK) Joint Task Force, Chris Austin, says life in affected British Overseas Territories is “moving back towards normality.”

“We have had a month of extensive emergency relief – stopping people from getting blown away, and giving them basic shelter and basic foods,”  Austin told the British Press Association.

UK joint task force “Through to schools now reopening, airports and ports are functioning, hospitals functioning, power is being reconnected, the water supply fixed – all of those things we have helped with, largely with the brilliant military effort,” he added. “So, the next stage is how we are going to get the economy rebooted.”

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Austin said across the Turks and Caicos, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the territories “are in different ways, open for tourists,” adding that hotel bookings and cruise ships are starting to “line themselves up.”

“It is moving back towards normality, but it is still pretty rough; and there will be people in all of those territories who have got it worse than others.”

At least 38 people were killed in the Caribbean by Hurricane Irma, with the weather  also blamed for manydeaths across the American states of Florida, South Carolina and Georgia.

Less than two weeks later, the region was rocked by a second major storm, Hurricane Maria, which narrowly missed hitting the affected British Overseas Territories with full force – but decimated Dominica and Puerto Rico.

To date, the UK government has pledged £57 million towards hurricane relief efforts, and announced an additional £5 million in financial support for the island of Dominica.

More than 132 tons of UK aid has also already arrived in the region and at the peak of relief efforts, there were more than 2,000 UK military personnel working in the Caribbean – “making it the largest deployment of British troops anywhere in the world.”

But Austin said that the military response is now “drawing down”, stating: “They will have pretty much left by the middle of next week.”

UK International Development Secretary, Priti Patel, who visited the BVI and Anguilla days after Hurricane Maria barreled through the Caribbean, said there are “signs of daily life getting back to normal.”

“Our UK Task Force is now working with the governments of the overseas territories to help them get on with the vital reconstruction work and to make sure the islands are built back more resiliently than in the past, so a future hurricane won’t be as devastating,” she said.

But, with the hurricane season set to run into November, Austin warned that the recovery is “still quite fragile” and another major storm could “reverse” any progression.

“If there is another hurricane, we are ready to respond as quickly as we did to Irma, which I think was a quick response rather than a slow response,” Austin said.