Ernesto is the first hurricane of the 2006 Caribbean hurricane season – active from 24 August to 1 September – which became a tropical storm as it headed deeper inland to North Carolina, United States.
In its path through the Caribbean, Tropical Storm Ernesto affected, to varying degrees, Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba and the United States, reaching maximum sustained winds of 120km (category 1) as it passed close to Haiti.
In Jamaica, Red Cross volunteers were mobilized in preparation for Ernesto. As a preparedness measure, relief items were dispatched to the St Elizabeth branch in order to increase the items in stock. Tropical Storm Ernesto passed close to the north of Jamaica, resulting in heavy rainfall, but there was no flooding or damage of note.
In Cuba, 5,100 Cuban Red Cross volunteers participated in evacuation, search and rescue, water safety and shelter management activities. Some 371,334 people were evacuated from high-risk areas in the south-east of Cuba, from Camaguey to Guantanamo. Fortunately, there was no major flooding.
In Haiti, the Haitian Red Cross branches in the south were on full alert as Hurricane Ernesto caused heavy rainfall, with regular radio communication maintained between branches. First aid kits were pre-positioned in the south and south-east. Red Cross volunteers also provided assistance to people in shelters, particularly children and the elderly. Some flooding was reported.
The American Red Cross activated all its volunteers in the area and implemented its contingency plan, which included activating its Disaster Operations Centre, pre-positioned relief stock including camp beds, blankets and hygiene kits; identifying leadership teams and support staff to be sent to Florida and Alabama and coordinating with authorities.
As Tropical Storm Ernesto moved through the region, the International Federation – through its Panama Regional Delegation and its Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) based in Panama, and supported by its country delegation in Haiti and its sub-regional office in Trinidad – remained in close contact with the National Societies in the region to coordinate activities and exchange information.