Essex County Fire and Rescue Service

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Officer returns from the Philippines

Divisional Officer Terry Webb has returned from a gruelling two week tour of duty as part of the international relief effort in the Philippines following the devastation caused by cyclone Haiyan.

Terry flew out as part of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism working as the Deputy Manager in a team of six.

Terry said: “We were initially deployed to Tacloban for the first week and then we moved on to Guiuan. Our role was one of co-ordinating the relief efforts, making sure that all of the agencies were working together and that the aid was getting to the right place at the right time.

“The devastation we saw was incredible, there was 90% damage with buildings and roads utterly destroyed. It was a huge task which faced us, there was no road network, no telephones or electricity which made our co-ordination role difficult but even more important.

“Once the co-ordination of aid is in place everything else follows so we knew that what we did was important.

“The people of the Philippines were incredibly resilient. It was both impressive and humbling to see how quickly they picked themselves up and worked together.

“When we first arrived there were people queuing at the airport to get out. There was a huge tropical storm and more than 1,000 people had formed an orderly queue waiting for military planes to take them out. No one pushed and no one jostled.

“The people there were incredible, they had been through the worst kind of disaster but everywhere we went we were met with warmth and gratitude. It was both impressive and humbling to see. Almost straight away we saw people salvaging wood, nails and sheet metal to start rebuilding their homes.

“We worked extremely long days but it was all worth it. Day by day we could see improvements that our work was bringing in helping people restore normality.

“I would like to thank everyone from the Service for their support throughout. The messages I received meant a great deal to me while I was working out there.”

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