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Red Cross urges governments and people to be prepared ahead of hurricane season as COVID 19 could delay assistance

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The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is preparing for the 2020 Hurricane Season in the Atlantic and Pacific regions, as the second storm of the season crosses the northern Caribbean.

Walter Cotte, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas, said the prediction of the 2020 hurricane season as an above-normal year, with 13 to 19 named storms, in conjunction with the COVID-19 pandemic, is cause for concern.

“Although we are focused on addressing COVID-19 we must also think ahead to preparing for the hurricane season. One of the main challenges is going to be logistical, as public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 have caused closures of borders and restrictions on movements.”

Red Cross organizations from across Latin America and the Caribbean are sharing messages of preparedness, urging people to have food, water, and other necessities on hand as it may take longer for help to arrive. Red Cross also encourages governments to support humanitarian efforts.

“Using humanitarian diplomacy, we are working with governments, advocating for flexibility in the regulatory framework to allow access and movement of humanitarian goods to ensure access in case of disaster in the region,” Cotte said.

“Also, to try and mitigate the impacts of a hurricane and associated flooding and landslides we are have pre-positioned about 200 tonnes of emergency supplies in key areas throughout the region.”

During a meeting of Red Cross National Societies this week, planning for the hurricane season is under way. Strategies are changing to reflect the reality of COVID-19, for example in Trinidad and Tobago, where they are conducting online refresher trainings with community emergency response team volunteers and shelter managers. Hundreds of Red Cross volunteers are being mobilized across the region to share early warning messages, help communities prepare and support after disaster where needed. Early action and effective preparedness can save lives and livelihoods.

Latin America and the Caribbean are regions of the world most prone to disasters. The IFRC advocates climate change adaptation measures to mitigate the humanitarian impact of these disasters, especially in urban populations.