Cayman Islands + 3 more

Hurricane Caribbean appeal

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Tens of thousands of residents and tourists have been evacuated from their homes and resorts in Mexico as Hurricane Emily struck the coastline last night.

The dangerous force four hurricane spurred the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to launch an emergency appeal after Emily tore through Grenada and was expected to hit the Cayman Islands and Jamaica at the weekend.

However, Red Cross volunteers breathed a sigh of relief as it passed both countries, leaving them relatively unscathed. The Cayman Islands were particularly devastated last year by the category five Hurricane Ivan which wreaked havoc across the Caribbean.

Fearing the worst, the Cayman Islands Red Cross opened shelters and mobilised large teams of skilled volunteers.

Emily passed over the island of Grenada last week leaving 2,000 families without a roof on their homes, mainly in the northern island of Carriacou. More than 800 families lost everything - some for the second time in ten months since Ivan.

However, all but two houses rebuilt by Grenada Red Cross with British and French Red Cross funding and technical assistance withstood the impact of Emily. The Federation is supplying plastic sheets, tarpaulins, blankets and first aid kits.

Philippe Puyo-Tschanz, British Red Cross expert on the Americas, said it was worrying that the hurricane season has begun so early in the Caribbean.

"This is the second hurricane already this season,"" he said. "The British Red Cross is looking to enable all the national societies of the Caribbean to respond as quickly as possible to the emergency needs of the population while we train communities in disaster prevention.""

Hurricane Dennis wreaked havoc earlier this month, claiming 60 lives in the Caribbean.