In the early hours of this morning I received an emotional voicemail from my brother Sam, after a week on the ground in the BVI. He is experiencing the devastation on the ground and I want to share his message so you can hear his account first-hand:
"It's really hard to explain in words Hols... you can’t explain it in words - you have to see it to believe it. It's like a bomb has gone off. The BVI has gone from an idyllic gem of the world to a humanitarian disaster zone. Everything is destroyed. One of the marines who has been deployed in war zones told me he has still never seen anything like this: 'Unlike war zones where certain areas are affected, here, every single inch of the country has been decimated.'
"It's just unbelievable to see Hog Heaven on Moskito. There's an 180,000 tonne ship on the side of the hill, and the land has not one leaf left - most of the trees have been ripped out of the ground.
"Dad's being positive and strong, but the BVI is his home and has been turned to rubble. He's been working tirelessly to help people on the ground and mobilise people back home to ensure long-term plans to rebuild the homes of the community are in motion.
"The people of Virgin Gorda are struggling to survive. They are the most inspiring people in the whole world. It's so difficult - they have absolutely nothing. They need essentials to survive: torches, tarpaulin, food and water. Everyone is exhausted. What our teams and the community are doing here is what should be being done by a 400 person professional aid team. The spirit on Virgin Gorda is incredible. It's really sad but it’s incredibly inspiring. Most are still managing to smile even though their children are being evacuated without them and all their belongings are strewn for miles.
"My mission has been to set up an aid command centre for the North Sound. Spanish Town has one but the 700 people here don't have local support yet. Logistically it's incredibly difficult with little fuel and no communication. Security of supplies and supply routes is also tough but we're getting some structure. I’m using all my attributes and skills that I have gathered in this life and they have been pushed to their limits. As are everyone else's.
"I'm so grateful from the bottom of my heart about what everyone is doing to help. Anything right now is helping people survive. Even if you and others can't see it Hols it's making a huge difference!
"I have laughed and cried with local friends and we are all doing all we can to stay positive! This is a story of hope and human connection in the face of adversity. We will get through this.
"I love you xxx''