The storm, which passed close by to the main island of Grand Cayman, changed course and hit the smaller island of Cayman Brac as a category 4 hurricane with 140mph winds, ripping roofs from buildings and leaving devastation in its wake. Only 20% of homes remain intact on Cayman Brac, and many of the roads are still impassable.
British Red Cross disaster manager for the Cayman Islands, Hemant Balgobin, said:
"Paloma has been devasting. Around a third of homes have no roof at all, some have been completely destroyed and the majority of homes here have some form of structural damage. Some areas are also experiencing flooding, as Paloma came in the wake of 2 weeks heavy rain. The Red Cross is working to distribute essential relief items but as the days go by, it is clear that many more people will need our help."
Cayman Brac is part of the Cayman Islands, a British Overseas Territory. Cayman Brac lies about 80 miles east of the main island of Grand Cayman and is home to approximately 18,000 residents, many of whom have been forced to leave their homes and are now staying with friends and relatives, or in government shelters. The islands also took a battering from Hurricane Gustav just two months ago.
The Red Cross is working with the Cayman Islands government and ADRA (Adventist Disaster Response Agency) to identify the needs of people on the island and are distributing basic relief items such tarpaulins, hygiene items and buckets. The British Red Cross has immediately released =A315,000 to support the emergency relief efforts but much more is desperately needed.
The British Red Cross are supporting countries including the Cayman Islands, Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands with their Hurricane Appeal, which was launched in response to Hurricanes Hanna and Ike.
To donate to the British Red Cross Hurricane Appeal go to www.redcross.org.uk/hurricaneappeal
Notes to editors
Hemant Balgobin is in Cayman Brac and is available for interview, please call Penny Sims on 020 7877 7044, or out of hours call 07659 145 095. Pictures and video footage are available.
The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.
For further information please contact:
Penny Sims, telephone: 0044 (0)20 7877 7044 /email: PSimis@redcross.org.uk, out of hours 07659 145095