23 August 2011
As Hurricane Irene gathers strength, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement is helping people across the Caribbean prepare.
Hurricane Irene passed over Puerto Rico – leaving up to 800,000 people without electricity and 100,000 without water for several hours – before sweeping north across the Dominican Republic yesterday.
The storm is forecast to get worse as it heads for the south-east of the United States over the weekend. Haiti – and much of the Dominican Republic – is on red alert.
Reducing destruction through preparation
The hurricane is predicted to move over the north of Haiti, bringing strong rains to Cap Haitien and Port de Paix. The British Red Cross is still helping people in Haiti recover from the 2010 earthquake. Across Haiti, the Red Cross has sent two million text messages, containing simple advice on how to prepare for the hurricane.
In the Turks and Caicos Islands, an overseas branch of the British Red Cross, volunteers and staff have refuelled the organisation’s vehicles, switched on its two satellite phones – in case landlines are disrupted – and prepared its offices for a lock-down. It has also distributed sandbags to the general public and its volunteers are on standby to provide services in shelters for those members of the community who need to evacuate their homes.
The Movement is also helping in the Bahamas, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. In the Dominican Republic over 1,400 Red Cross volunteers have stepped into action. The Red Cross is assessing the damage in the north of the country, while in other areas it is helping with preventative evacuations.
Read more about how the Red Cross helps people prepare for disasters