Emergency appeals launched as Cuba, Haiti and Jamaica recover from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy

Panama, 2 November, 2012 - Thousands of people have been left devastated after Hurricane Sandy left a trail of destruction across the Caribbean. Initial reports from affected countries suggest that the hurricane has had a massive impact on already vulnerable communities, and that for many the recovery process will be long and challenging.

In response to this emergency, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has today launched three preliminary emergency appeals for Cuba (Call for voluntary donation - 5,453,221 CHF/5,843,000 US dollars), Jamaica (1,211,693 CHF/1,298,000 US dollars) and Haiti (2,162,206 CHF/2,316,000 US dollars). The appeals will support National Societies in their emergency relief, shelter, health and water and sanitation related activities.

Dr Luis Foyo Ceballos, Secretary General of the Cuban Red Cross, said that in the province of Santiago, more than 60 per cent of the population had been affected. “This hurricane has surprised us not only because of its strength, but also because it has caused a level of destruction which we did not expect,” he said. “We know our early warning systems are very good and the allow us to be well prepared, but we are simply not used to this loss of life.

”Dr Jean Pierre Guiteau, Executive Director of the Haiti Red Cross Society, said that in Haiti, more than 18,000 families - many of whom are living in already difficult circumstances - have been affected by the storm. “This is the second time Haiti has been hit this year and we are once again responding to peoples’ needs, working before, during and after both storms to help to prepare and recover. The needs are great and we are working in communities across the affected areas to help people get back on their feet,” he said.

Alexandre Claudon de Vernisy, IFRC Country Representative in Haiti, said: "Isaac and Sandy combined have deteriorated an already precarious situation in both health and agriculture and unfortunately this will have long-term humanitarian consequences.”

In Jamaica, 18,000 people have been affected and a huge number of farms destroyed. Lois Hue Deputy Director General of the Jamaica Red Cross, said the organization was still assessing the situation, but it was clear considerable assistance would be required. “The entire island is alarmed and shocked by the pain being experienced in the three parishes - St.Thomas, St. Mary, Portland - that have been the most affected.”

Although the storm has now passed, it is evident that the impact of Sandy will continue to grow in the region. In addition to the three countries where appeals have been launched, staff and volunteers are also working with affected communities in Dominican Republic and the Bahamas. Jan Gelfand Head of Operations for the IFRC Americas Zone Office, said the organization would support the National Societies in the Caribbean to help ensure a sustainable recovery for those affected by the hurricane. “We need to make sure that Sandy’s impact does not become a forgotten disaster. With the commitment of our partners and stakeholders, we will ensure that we can cover these appeals and continue to assist those most in need.”