DISASTER relief charities in Salisbury are heading out to the Caribbean to help communities affected by Hurricane Irma.

Volunteers from Serve On, based at Salisbury Fire Station, and Team Rubicon UK in Chilmark will be carrying out assessment work in the region and left for the airport this morning.

Salisbury Journal:

A statement on Serve On's website said: "The potential for a significant humanitarian impact is therefore great, with many thousands of people already being evacuated into emergency shelters.

"The initial plan is for our light assessment team to deploy to the region, assess the situation, monitor the damage and link in with the cluster system to see where Team Rubicon volunteers can help with a larger follow-on deployment."

Volunteers from Team Rubicon will be asessing the humanitarian requirements after Hurricane Irma caused widespread devastation.

Hurricane Irma, a category 5 Hurricane, is the strongest Atlantic storm in recorded history.

Irma is forecast to remain a powerful category 4 or 5 hurricane during the coming hours and days.

The charity says it is highly likely to affect the islands within the next 48 hours, bringing with it dangerous winds, storm surges, and extreme rainfall, along with rough surf and rip currents.

Many thousands of people have been evacuated into emergency shelters.

The hurricane has destroyed buildings and caused major flooding.

Team Rubicon UK director of field operations Oz Lane said: “It’s clear that Hurricane Irma has absolutely devastated the affected islands, destroying buildings, leaving families homeless and seeing a tragic loss of life. The local communities are going to face enormous challenges in the coming days, weeks and even months.

"Team Rubicon will be assessing what the immediate humanitarian priorities are and what resources we need to mobilize to provide support. Our team in the UK will continue to monitor the path of Hurricane Irma as well as Hurricane Jose which has the capacity to cause a devastating secondary impact.”

Team Rubicon volunteers are preparing to support the wider response and a second team is planning to depart to Haiti where the hurricane is currently heading.

To support the hurricane response visit totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/Hurricanes2017

Team Rubicon UK and Serve On recently returned from a mission in the Philippines where they helped provide disaster training to first responders in Cebu and rebuild a school.