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Final aid drop lands on Turks and Caicos as Hurricane Maria approaches

Winds of up to 110mph could lash the Turks and Caicos as the storm sweeps past the islands on Thursday night.

A final aid drop has landed on a British overseas territory ahead of Hurricane Maria’s arrival, as residents stress a second storm is the last thing they need.

Winds of up to 110mph could lash the Turks and Caicos as the storm sweeps past the islands on Thursday night – with a hurricane warning issued.

Emergency steps have been undertaken on the islands to prepare for the looming onslaught, as residents and UK troops hunker down in anticipation of the worst.

Royal Navy Lieutenant Stephen Dunning said one concern is that the high winds which Maria could unleash will see debris picked up and “thrown around like a washing machine”.

Despite the storm tracking to the east of Turks and Caicos, he said the worry is whether any new damage could set back repairs already completed in the wake of Irma.

Royal Navy Lieutenant Stephen Dunning stands in front of a Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules aircraft (Georgina Stubbs/PA)

The 34-year-old from Marlow, Buckinghamshire, told the Press Association there are approximately 70 UK military and personnel on Grand Turk who “are as prepared as possible”.

“We have concentrated on preparation for this over the last couple of days – as soon as we knew it was heading our way,” he said. “Supplies and stores have come in, so as soon as the storm has passed we can get out and assist where we can, just like we have for the last week.”

A Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules aircraft, carrying 5.5 tonnes of UK Aid building material, plus additional food and water, landed on Grand Turk to replenish British troops supplies ahead of Maria’s imminent arrival.

UK Aid building materials being unloaded from a Royal Canadian Air Force Hercules aircraft on Grand Turk (Georgina Stubbs/PA)

Master Corporal Benoit St-Germain, 29, of 436 Squadron joined the relief efforts on Saturday and delivered the latest batch of aid and said he is “very happy” to be part of the operation.

“It is nice we can go out and help people in need. There is nothing more satisfying in our job than to help people and to do what we are supposed to do,” he said. “We know there are a lot of people in distress, so for us to bring them what they need, it is great.”

Just two weeks ago Turks and Caicos was ravaged by Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful storms in decades.

Gracita Quelch, who has lived on Grand Turk all of her life, said she is feeling “scared” ahead of the latest hurricane. The 54-year-old said: “Just when we have had one, we get one right back again – it is scary.”

Gracita Quelch, a resident on Grand Turk (Georgina Stubbs/PA)

She said her house did not suffer too much damage as a result of Hurricane Irma, but that the sound of the wind and flying debris was the most terrifying part.

“If it comes close to us or whatever, it is going to cause damage – even if we just get the water,” she added.

Asked whether she has known a hurricane season like this one during her lifetime, Ms Quelch said “never”.

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