Soldiers relish hurricane challenge

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The island’s soldiers stood down on Saturday after a major effort to cope with the damage caused by Hurricane Humberto.

A total of 120 Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers fanned out across the island on Thursday to help clear roads and help people whose homes had been damaged by the Category 3 storm, which hit on Wednesday night.

Private Ariana Smith, 22, who only joined the regiment last year, had a baptism of fire on her first hurricane deployment.

She said: “I knew we would be cleaning up, but not much else. I have enjoyed the togetherness of it all.

“It’s been very rewarding. The lack of sleep has not been fun, but I would volunteer for this type of effort again.”

Private Smith, who joined the RBR after a friend in the service convinced her to have a shot at Recruit Camp in 2018, added the pay rates were attractive.

But she said: “Really it was because I like new challenges and getting to try new things. I was excited to see what new opportunities joining the regiment would bring, and this was just the latest one.”

Private Kyle DeRoza, 22, from Warwick, was part of the hurricane nerve centre at the Bermuda Police Services communications centre at police headquarters in Devonshire and also worked with a team engaged in clean-up operations.

The signals specialist said: “The updates came in fast and were processed fast as well.”

Private DeRoza, who studied computing at Bermuda College and who joined up in 2017, added he later transferred to a clean-up crew and hit the ground running.

He said: “I am a hands-on person and like having something to do. What is keeping me beyond my minimum service is my pride in helping the island.

“You can directly help your neighbours and your community in the RBR.

“You can even help yourself. We have the tools, equipment and training to gain new certifications in trade skills or academics, which give you more job and career opportunities outside of Warwick Camp.”

RBR Adjutant Captain Paolo Odoli, who celebrated his 35th birthday on Tuesday with a call-up to serve through the storm, also worked in the Prospect communications centre.

He said: “It was another magnificent effort by our country’s soldiers, who stepped up to the plate yet again when Bermuda needed them.

“The RBR — and the entire country — should be proud of the men and women who left their own homes to help protect others from harm.”

Captain Odoli added: “It was hard work and it was stressful but, as Tropical Storm Jerry approaches, we will be ready to do it all over again if needed.”

RBR Acting Commanding Officer Major Ben Beasley said: “I am immensely proud of the effort put in by our soldiers on land and at sea.

“The RBR has again proved its capabilities and ability to deal with a crisis, be it at home or overseas.”

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Published Sep 23, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Sep 23, 2019 at 7:59 am)

Soldiers relish hurricane challenge

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