The Barbados Red Cross Society Responds to Barbadians' Humanitarian Needs

from Caribbean Red Cross Societies
Published on 10 Nov 2010 View Original
The Barbados Red Cross Society (BRCS) has launched "Operation Breadfruit" the key component of its response to the humanitarian needs of Barbadians affected by the damage done by Tropical Storm Tomas.

"Operation Breadfruit" is being coordinated through the office of the Director-General by Lawrence Marshall, the BRCS Director of Disaster Services. As of Wednesday, the dozen or so volunteers have distributed at least one hundred (100) tarpaulins to Barbadians whose house roofs were damaged by the heavy rain and gusty winds associated with the tropical storm.

"These tarpaulins were pre-positioned here in Barbados as part of the Society's contingency planning", said Mr. Marshall. "We have also provided 30 family packs - which would include enough towels and other personal hygiene items for a family of five. We have also distributed items like raincoats, boots, and other safety equipment to support teams like the District Emergency Organisations that have been working within communities across Barbados".

As part of its immediate response, Deniese Dennis, the BRCS Field Officer was stationed at the National Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). This provided the BRCS with real-time data on developments during the passage of the tropical storm while allowing for close collaboration between the BRCS and all key stakeholders. "Being stationed at the National EOC allowed the Barbados Red Cross to obtain critical information in a timely manner", said Ms. Dennis, "It allowed us to respond to an immediate need by the Department of Emergency Management for 50 tarpaulins which were required for distribution to households hardest hit. This reinforced the importance of having pre-positioned supplies and access to our Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) as a mechanism that places Red Cross in a unique position to respond".

Within hours of the all-clear a high-level rapid assessment team led by the IFRC's Regional Representative for the Caribbean, Tanya Wood was on the ground to get a first-hand view of the damage done and to fashion the Red Cross response. This team also included Miia Pollanen, Disaster Risk Reduction Delegate from the Panama based Pan American Disaster Response Unit; Lawrence Marshall, BRCS Director of Disaster Management; Disaster Manager Tamara Lovell and Director-General Edmond Bradshaw.

Tamara Lovell says "The BRCS has been fortunate to have had access to funding through a project funded by the European Union's Office of Humanitarian Aid (ECHO). Significant work was done in communities like Charles Rowe Bridge and Martin's Bay. This ECHO-funded project allowed us to create a community disaster response team (CDRT) in the Charles Rowe Bridge community. This team has been trained and equipped to respond and in the immediate aftermath, team-members were busy clearing drains to ensure that one of that community's vulnerabilities - flooding, would be minimized."

According to Ms. Lovell "Tomas has demonstrated how important it is to empower communities through the unique Red Cross methodologies like the VCA or Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment tool, which allows community members to better understand the vulnerabilities and the capacity within the community. This is critical especially within those first few hours and it allows a more focused community response".

In the past few weeks, Red Cross Volunteers have received significant levels of training through this ECHO-funded project. In addition to the Community Disaster Response Team training, they have also been trained in Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment (VCA), Volunteer Management, National Intervention Team (NITS) training, as well as Logistics and Warehouse training, and some aspects of food security.

Over the next few days Red Cross volunteers operating from the warehousing facility of the BRCS new headquarters in Warrens, will continue to support the humanitarian needs of Barbadians through the distribution of critically important emergency supplies to support Barbados' rehabilitation process.