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Aid worker John Murphy is back from the disaster zone Bahamas where he has been helping mend broken lives.
The maintenance man from Taynuilt spent one month on the hurricane-hit island of Abaco, co-ordinating and delivering emergency supplies but said the utter devastation he witnessed there made it feel more like a year.
Mr Murphy was in the Bahamas as part of an international disaster relief team organised by Christian charity Samaritan’s Purse in response to the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian.
‘It looked like a nuclear bomb had gone off. There was nothing left, it was just blown apart. Only 10 per cent of the houses were left. I didn’t spend one dollar while I was there, there was absolutely nothing to spend it on.’
The charity uses funds pre-supported by Christian-giving to get volunteers out where they are needed when disasters strike. In the past five years John has served in Nepal after an earthquake, war-torn Iraq and in the Greek Islands helping refugees.
Aid workers were being fed by charity World Kitchen, which was also feeding the disaster survivors.
‘It was rice, tuna and chicken, tuna, rice and chicken and as many combinations of it that you could imagine, but we were grateful for it,’ added Mr Murphy who was working 14 to 16 hour days, seven days a week.
His role was as logistics manager, responsible for moving aid, co-ordinating helicopters and aeroplanes to get help to where it was most needed, keeping keep track of deliveries and taking supply orders.
Cholera had been threatening but thanks to a supply of fresh drinking water, an outbreak has so far been avoided, he said.
Even though he is back home, the pure devastation he saw and stories he heard from survivors will stay with him.
‘There were gusts of 243mph at some points. One man told me how he had been praying in the church when the roof blew off, then the walls and then the rest of the church – just taken away. He and others were left clinging onto whatever they could. I won’t forget those stories.’
Reunited in Taynuilt with wife Louise he is starting adjusting to normal life again.
‘It can be a bit overwhelming at first coming back to normal life from a place so utterly devastated and where so many lives have been ripped apart. It can be very emotional, but it’s good to be home. I was only away for a month but it felt like a year,’ he said.
Wife Louise said: ‘It’s good to get my best friend back. It’s a strange mix of emotions when he’s away. I’m enormously proud of the amazing work he does but hope he won’t be called away for another while, giving us time to get his kit washed and bag packed again! It just depends on what’s happening in the world.’
To support the work of Samaritan’s Purse go to samaritans-purse.org.uk to make a donation.