Disaster network demonstrates the power of preparation in the Caribbean

Published: 26 October 2012 19:57 CET
  • National Societies over the Caribbean have been preparing disaster plans to go into effect when disaster strikes.
  • National Societies over the Caribbean have been preparing disaster plans to go into effect when disaster strikes.
National Societies over the Caribbean have been preparing disaster plans to go into effect when disaster strikes.

As communities and National Societies prepared for the arrival of another powerful storm, Volunteers and staff from the Bahamas Red Cross Society have been on the ground ensuring that those most vulnerable to the effects of the storm were safe and cared for.

Caroline Turnquest, Director General of the organization, said the smooth commencement of the operation was testament to the regular planning and the work of the Emergency Operations Centre. “Our inhouse team meets each Wednesday. We do our refresher training in first aid and damage and needs assessment, check our communications and ensure our warehouse and logistics capabilities are up to par,” she said. “As a result, we had enough supplied on hand and the ability to get them out to the people most in need.”

Hurricane Sandy, which has already passed close to Haiti, Cuba and has cause some damage, including knocking down powerlines, in New Providence, the main island of the Bahamas. Mrs Turnquest said that though the storm appeared to be losing its power, volunteer leaders had been stationed on each of the 23 islands to provide regular updates and to leap into action when, or if, they’re needed.

Red Cross societies in Jamaica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti and other Caribbean islands have been working since the hurricane first made landfall earlier this week. Benoit Porte, acting coordinator of the region’s disaster response unit, said: “We are mobilizing members of our Pan American disaster response unit to support damage and needs assessment in affected countries,” he said. “A member of the unit is already in Jamaica, and others are on the way to Bahamas, Cuba and Dominican Republic, arriving once the airports are reopened. We are confident that with the additional support, those National Societies will continue delivering aid to those affected by the storm.”

As Sandy moves away from the Caribbean and towards mainland United States, the Bahamas Red Cross Society has been invited to be a part of the national damage and needs assessment team working in the archipelago. Ms Turnquest said: “I am thankful to everyone who gave their time and skills to ensure that citizens were safe and well cared for.”

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