The Caribbean was hit by a number of powerful hurricanes and tropical storms, some of the worst in ten years, in September 2004.
Thousands of people lost their homes and were in desperate need of food, water and shelter.
The British Red Cross sent several delegates to the region to help with the relief and rehabilitation operations.
One of the worst hurricanes to strike the Caribbean was Hurricane Ivan. In Grenada, when the Hurricane hit on 7 September, at least 39 people were killed and 90 per cent of homes were damaged. More than 60,000 people were made homeless, and 5,000 sought refuge in shelters. The hurricane also affected the island’s water, electricity and telephone services.
The International Red Cross response
In Grenada a total of 10,000 food parcels and 8,000 hygiene kits were distributed to 10,000 families. The Red Cross also distributed 20,000 tarpaulins to help families repair their damaged roofs.The focus was then on providing people with zinc sheets to repair their homes and giving psychological support to those suffering from depression.
With the help of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (Federation), the Grenada Red Cross implemented a seeds programme. This programme helped 450 small-scale farmers, who lost their nutmeg crop in the hurricane, get back on their feet by planting quick-growing fruit and vegetables.
In Jamaica, food parcels, plastic sheeting and other essential household goods were distributed. When the relief distribution came to an end, the Red Cross helped people rebuild their homes and provided psychological support to those affected. The Jamaica Red Cross provided psychological support to its own staff and volunteers, and implemented training sessions in Grenada and the Cayman Islands to support similar activities there.
Cayman Islands Red Cross
The Cayman Islands Red Cross, an overseas branch of the British Red Cross, distributed relief goods to 1,000 families. The focus of the operation then turned to rehabilitation. This included addressing the permanent shelter needs of the population and rehabilitating the Branch headquarters.
Haiti Red Cross
The Haiti Red Cross was quick to respond to people’s needs following Tropical Storm Jeanne. Red Cross volunteers transported the injured to health centres and assisted in the distribution of food, water and other relief goods. They were also involved in the recovery and burial of bodies.
The British Red Cross response
The British Red Cross’ Caribbean Hurricane Appeal, which was launched on 10 September 2004, raised over £383,000. Money from the appeal provided urgently needed shelter materials and clean water for people across the Caribbean, including those affected by Tropical Storm Jeanne in Haiti. The British Red Cross also released £40,000 from its Disaster Fund to support the relief operation in Haiti.
Shortly after Hurricane Ivan struck the Caribbean, the British Red Cross sent three logistics delegates to Grenada to help with the emergency relief efforts on the island. Another two delegates flew to Jamaica to support the Red Cross’ operations there and on the Cayman Islands.
As part of its ongoing response, the British Red Cross sent a logistics expert to the Cayman Islands to help assess the Branch’s future needs. Another British Red Cross delegate was sent to Grenada to look at implementing the Federation’s seeds programme.
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