Red Cross - Prepared for and responding to Hurricane Dennis

Still reeling from the effects of several hurricanes which ripped through the Caribbean last year, Jamaica, Haiti, Cuba and the Cayman Islands are now dealing with Hurricane Dennis, the fourth storm of the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.
The Red Cross Societies in Haiti, Jamaica, Cuba & Cayman Islands are cooperating with the national authorities in responding to the needs of people as Hurricane Dennis, a category four hurricane develops with winds reaching 135mph. A disaster preparedness strategy is being followed and all the National Societies of the region, with the support of the International Federation are ready and equipped to respond to the hazards of this hurricane season, as they did in 2004.

The International Federation of the Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies is in regular contact with the National Societies affected, and regular communication will ensure continued monitoring of the storm's development and effects. To date 250,000 CHF (US 192,000 or EUR 161,000) has been allocated from the Federation's Disaster Relief Emergency Fund for the initial response to any disaster caused in the current hurricane season.

The Federation's Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) is coordinating the response and is capable of meeting the needs of some 10,000 families with materials such as plastic sheeting, hygiene kits, kitchen sets, jerry cans and provision of clean water.

As part of the pre-positioning plan, an experienced disaster-management delegate from PADRU arrived in Haiti before the hurricane hit to support the Haitian Red Cross. Evaluation teams will assess the damage incurred and the needs of those affected.

In Haiti, Dennis is affecting the southern part of the island where there are two major populated communities Département du Sud and Grand Anse.

The area is considered to be highly vulnerable to flooding. Access roads are likely to be cut if rainfall exceed average levels. Coastal villages are being evacuated and approximately 300 Haitian Red Cross volunteers have been mobilized in Les Cayes and are evacuating the most vulnerable populations. Shelters have been set up in Les Cayes, Port Salut, and Grand Anse. To date 700 people are sheltering there. Reports so far confirm that 17 houses have been destroyed, 16 badly damaged and the hospital in Les Cayes has been flooded, but is still operational.

The Jamaica Red Cross has alerted its 13 branches, and pre-positioned stocks are ready. A Community Disaster Response Team (CDRT) is managing a shelter in St Thomas where wide scale flooding has occurred. Some rural communities on the east of the island including St Thomas, Portland and St Mary have been cut off by heavy flood waters.

As a result of the hurricane in Jamaica, 2000 people are in 65 shelters. Twenty eight communities have been flooded and volunteers of the Jamaican Red Cross have worked through the night carrying out search and rescue. One person is reported dead. Authorities plan to fly over these affected communities to search for stranded villagers. Jamaica has already been experiencing thunder-storms island wide and residents living in low lying areas as well as fishing communities have been asked to seek higher ground.

The Cayman Islands overseas branch of the British Red Cross has opened a shelter in each district and has alerted 120 volunteers to prepare for the hurricane.

The Cuban Red Cross is ready to assist the authorities with evacuation procedures as required. Stocks are pre-positioned and many volunteers are on alert.

More information will be made available as the situation develops.

For further information, or to set up interviews, please contact:

Manuel Rodriguez, Information Delegate in Panama Tel. (507) 534- 90-43
Siân Bowen, Manager of Media and Public Relations Tel. + 41 79 217 33 88
Media Service Duty Phone Tel. + 41 79 416 3881

The Geneva-based International Federation promotes the humanitarian activities of 181 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies among vulnerable people. By coordinating international disaster relief and encouraging development support, it seeks to prevent and alleviate human suffering. The Federation, National Societies and the International Committee of the Red Cross together, constitute the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.