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Red Cross responds as Hurricane Beryl devastates the Carribean

Red Cross teams have sprung into action after Hurricane Beryl, the first category 5 storm to strike this early in the year, devastates a number of Caribbean islands.

Last updated 7 July 2024

The Red Cross has been supporting communities affected by Hurricane Beryl, which has caused devastation across a number of Caribbean islands over the past week.

Having intensified over the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend, the storm is due to make landfall on the southeast coast of Texas on Monday, 8 July. Officials in Texas are warning residents that the storm could be deadly.

Beryl has reportedly killed at least 11 people so far in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Jamaica and Venezuela after tearing through the Caribbean earlier in the week.

It knocked out power to around 400,000 homes in Jamaica on Wednesday, and destroyed several buildings.

Red Cross spokesperson Rhea Marie Pierre says: “In the coming days, we will have a clearer picture of the full impact of Beryl on people’s physical and mental health and livelihoods.

“But rapid damage assessments show that the devastation is massive.

Living the realities of climate change

With wind speeds over 252 kilometres per hour, Hurricane Beryl has became the strongest hurricane ever to form in July, and the earliest category 5 storm ever observed in the North Atlantic Ocean. 

Over the last week, the storm has undergone multiple rounds of rapid intensification, which is caused by oceanic warming.

The Red Cross is deeply concerned about the severity of a storm like this so early on in the season. 

“Traditionally hurricanes only strengthen throughout the season, which runs until November and we are only in July, continues Rhea Marie Pierre.

“Hurricanes this early on in the season are driven, in part, by climate change,” she continues. “The region accounts for less than 10% of carbon emissions but we are bearing the brunt of it.”

Red Cross response to Hurricane Beryl

Right now, the Red Cross Movement is assessing the impact and damage caused by Hurricane Beryl, with our teams on the ground already providing support to those affected.

Staff and volunteers have begun distributing essential supplies to families, providing emergency shelter and emotional support.

The British Red Cross is in contact with our partners in the region and are monitoring the situation closely, ready to support in any way possible. 

Cayman Islands’ Red Cross Director, Jondo Obi, said: “The key to getting through this devastating hurricane season is preparedness. Our volunteers have been working hard to set up shelters, ensure the safety of our most vulnerable citizens.

"We are making sure we have important items stocked up and available, such as drinking water and first aid supplies.”

In Barbados - Beryl's surge damaged over 200 fishing boats - a massive loss to thousands of families whose livelihoods depend on fishing. Red Cross teams in Barbados are supporting with logistical help to get supplies out across the region.

In Cayman Islands – Volunteers have been checking stocks of emergency supplies including drinking water and first aid supplies. Shelters opened on Wednesday, with 32 shelter managers assigned.

In Dominica - Red Cross teams have set up shelters and distributed relief supplies, including kitchen sets, mattresses, shelter toolkits, stoves, cleaning and hygiene kits, mosquito nets and blankets.

In St Vincent and the Grenadines - with 90% of the infrastructure damaged on the island Red Cross teams have provided 500 hygiene kits, 125 cleaning kits, 200 kitchen sets, 500 blankets, and dozens of mosquito nets.

In Grenada - around 95% of buildings are damaged or destroyed. Grenada Red Cross teams have provided supplies of tarps, cleaning kits, shelter took kits, (shovels, spades, tents, wheelbarrows), and teams are supporting needs assessments.

In Jamaica - the Jamaica Red Cross has sent food packages, blankets, cots, hygiene kits, tarpaulins and other relief items to support government efforts, with specific focus on the homeless, those in hospitals and shelters, and other vulnerable groups.

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