Cochrane man to help in hurricane-ravaged Caribbean
Thursday, Oct 05, 2017 06:00 am
A Cochrane man who has vacationed in the Caribbean in the past is making another trip to paradise – but this time, it will be to help clean up the chaos left behind by two devastating hurricanes.
Father of two Danny Ross will leave this week for Barbuda – one of several islands that suffered “unprecedented” destruction after Category 5 Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Jose, a Category 4 tropical storm, barreled through the region in September.
More than 95 per cent of Antigua and Barbuda’s buildings were damaged or destroyed and the area’s 1,800 now-homeless residents were on a forced evacuation order for nearly three weeks.
“It looks like somebody took a rolling pin to the whole island. It’s all gone,” said Ross. “They need everything – shelter, food, clothing, clean water.”
Ross, who lives with his family in Fireside, had previously volunteered with Samaritan’s Purse Canada, helping to stuff shoe boxes at the charity’s warehouse near the Calgary International Airport.
When he heard the Christian relief organization was organizing a mission to the weather-affected area, he hoped there would be a way for him to help.
Through word of mouth, Ross said he was able to find a volunteer position on the islands that takes advantage of his specific background as a mechanical engineer.
“My role will be going down with the Sprung Structure and setting up the (Samaritan’s Purse) base of operations for Antigua, Barbuda and the surrounding islands,” he said, adding a Sprung Instant Structure is “basically just an aluminum structure that’s very easy to put up and take down with a canvas.”
“They just needed someone with a little more know-how,” he said.
Earlier this week, Ross helped load a flatbed truck with all the different elements of the $200,000 temporary disaster recovery building. Later this week, he will travel on a DC-8 with three Sprung employees and two other volunteers from Samaritan’s Purse into Barbuda.
Ross said it will only take a few days to erect the structure, which will be used to share supplies and offer shelter as the group helps re-build the shattered community.
While Ross will miss his young son’s first birthday in the 11 days he’ll be gone, he said it’s worth it to help bring some solace to the tropical islands – and their residents – who have given him and so many others many happy memories over the years.
“Being in North America, we all vacation in the Caribbean all the time. I’ve actually developed relationships with people who work at these resorts,” he said. “These are people that I’ve connected with … and now they’ve been completely wiped out. These people have nothing.”