Volunteers and staff in across Cuba have been involved in assisting in preparedness and evacuations.
By the time Tropical Storm Isaac made landfall in Cuba on Saturday 25 August in the province of Guantanamo with sustained 95 km/h winds, the communities in the area were already prepared to safely face the effects caused by the storm.
In its auxiliary role to governments, the Cuban Red Cross had activated more than 1,800 volunteers to the western provinces through which the storm was predicted to pass. Operations and Rescue teams, ranging from community-based to specialized staff in all the provinces had been prepared since last Friday, working together with the fire department to visit a number of communities vulnerable to storm surges and strong rains, in order to carry out possible rescue activities if needed. Lazaro, a volunteer at the municipality of Bayamo in the province of Granma, said that they were working to prepare communities, so that there were no tragedies.
In order to save lives, the Cuban Red Cross has given its support to government efforts in assisting more than 45,000 people to preventively leave their houses, and ensuring their protection in shelters or with family and friends.
In an effort to give the best assistance possible to vulnerable people, Graciela Tames, international humanitarian law representative of the provincial branch in Guantánamo said everyone was working hard to protect vulnerable communities. “We all elbows deep in our work, giving psychosocial support to those evacuated because some of them are not comfortable leaving their things behind. But preservation of life is paramount, although we must also protect livelihoods.”
For Dr. Zoelia, Secretary General of the Provincial Branch in Santiago de Cuba, who began volunteering with the Red Cross 29 years ago, the Cuban volunteer, like so many others around the world, feels a distinct passion for what he or she does, for giving assistance. “They enjoy helping people in the middle of difficult situations. In spite of this, we have a good time and we laugh.”