Soldiers boost morale for seniors
Regiment soldiers helped to boost morale and provide assistance for some 100 seniors residing at two Bermuda Housing Trust properties during Hurricane Gonzalo.
BHT chairman John Barritt was so concerned about the welfare of the residents, he liaised with the Bermuda Regiment Commanding Officer Lt Col Michael Foster-Brown to see whether they could help.
Four soldiers were able to stay on location at two out of the BHT’s five developments as there were vacant units there. “Like everybody else on Monday we were clearing up after [Tropical Storm] Fay and then preparing for [Hurricane] Gonzalo,” Mr Barritt said. “I got in touch with the CO of the Regiment and he agreed that after the hurricane passed they could look in on the developments to make sure everyone was all right.
“Then I had an idea to see if we could house some Regiment soldiers there. We had two stationed at Dr Cann Park and two at Haydon Park.”
Usually, the Regiment aims to keep all the soldiers together so they can be deployed as needed to assess the damage.
“I said we could at least try it — the mere presence of two soldiers would be of great comfort and reassurance to our seniors who range from 65 up into the 90s,” Mr Barritt said. “It did just that. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any vacant properties in the other developments. Dr Cann Park is a recent construction, and we were concerned as to how it would do during the hurricane, so we were particularly happy to have them there.”
A resident at Dr Cann Park, Russell Charles Virgil, 74, said: “Having the soldiers here has encouraged us a lot — we had ups and downs but we made it through. They were a good source of help. They were moving plants off the porch, bringing them in out of the weather. Some of the trees had blown down, they helped us to clear that. A bit of the roof came off the side so they helped us with that as well. I think it would be a great thing for this to happen every time there’s a hurricane.”
The soldiers were Corporal Andre Landy, Lance Corporal Rico Trott, Private Bryan Turner and Private Andrew DeCosta.
Mr Barritt said the operation was so successful he would like to develop the idea in the future.
“We now want to cooperate with the Regiment to make this standard operating procedure in the future so that if we don’t have vacant units we can use houses that have been left vacant by residents for the soldiers to stay in,” he said.
“The residents appreciated having the soldiers there. It points out how effective, and useful, the Regiment can be when they are able to deploy in that way — it puts the soldiers right on location at point sensitive before, during and after.
“Having the soldiers reside at the developments was a departure for the Regiment but it proved very useful in terms of reassuring seniors. I have thanked them in an e-mail and the four soldiers and I have already made the suggestion that it will become part of the post mortem discussion on what we can do next time around. We are extremely grateful to them. It is a terrific community service.”
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