POLICE officers who volunteered to help relief operations after Hurricane Irma are bracing themselves for a second storm to batter the British Virgin Islands.

Five Thames Valley Police officers have been involved in a ‘breath-taking’ response alongside military personnel from RAF Brize Norton and RAF Benson since they were deployed to the Caribbean following the destruction caused by the category five hurricane last week.

Sergeant David Keith, a former neighbourhood police officer in Barton, told the Oxford Mail of the ‘devastation’ on the islands.

Sgt Keith said yesterday he was amazed by the ‘positivity’ of local people who had ‘lost everything’. Now, he and 50 other British officers are working around the clock as they await the onslaught from a second storm, Hurricane Maria, today.

Sgt Keith, who is based in Banbury, said the islands appeared as if all life had been ‘sucked away’ from them, adding shipping containers had been thrown around in the storm and that there was no electricity.

The sergeant said he and his colleagues had been assisting local police and the Army on patrols and specialist operations.

He said: “I just wanted to get involved and do what we can do for the people here. The people here are amazing.

“Most people have lost everything. The roofs have come off their houses and the rain has got in.

“Their houses are totally destroyed but they are still happy. They are so upbeat and positive.”

One operation involved securing a prison, and Sgt Keith said he and a local officer spotted and arrested a prisoner – jailed for murder – who had escaped as a result of the storm.

Hurricane Irma has affected thousands including British nationals over the past week and devastated British Overseas Territories, including the British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos.

The UK is responsible for defence and law and order in the territories, and Puma helicopters from RAF Benson’s support helicopter task force have been deployed, along with supplies and personnel flown out from RAF Brize Norton.

Irma claimed many lives on its path and Maria is set to follow a similar course. It was upgraded to category five after 160mph winds were recorded. The storm is described by the National Hurricane Centre as ‘potentially catastrophic’.

Up to 15in of rain is predicted to fall as Maria barrels across the Caribbean, with ‘isolated maximum amounts of 20in’ expected to deluge the British Virgin Islands.