In 72 hours, more than 3,000 people in Cayman donated enough baby supplies, food, clothes, medicines and other necessities to fill the warehouse at Cayman Islands Brewery.
On Tuesday, those supplies will be loaded on a Cayman Airways plane and flown to Haiti to help the country where at least 500 died in Hurricane Matthew. Some of the supplies will be sent to eastern Cuba, which also saw significant damage from the storm.
The donation center at the Saxon Insurance building on Eastern Avenue was bustling Saturday with dozens of volunteers sorting and boxing donations. People lined up to drop off donations.
Jo Dunne, coordinating the volunteer efforts at the office, said, “This place has been filled and emptied and filled and emptied a couple times today.”
Volunteers packed up the donations in the office suite and loaded them on to a Cayman Islands Brewery truck.
As of late Saturday afternoon, she said, they had filled the truck six times to take goods to the warehouse.
“We have filled an entire warehouse to the brim,” Matthew Leslie announced late Saturday night over social media.
Shortly after the storm struck Haiti, Mr. Leslie said he began organizing the relief effort, with help from government, Saxon and a small army of volunteers.
Kenroy Henderson, a brewery employee who was helping load the truck with donations Saturday, said, “We might need another warehouse.”
Police had to help direct traffic around the donation site at times Saturday, when traffic became backed up as people dropped off supplies.
“Cayman showed some major love these past couple of days,” Mr. Leslie said Sunday.
Mr. Leslie said the donations will be distributed by U.S. Marines in the country, some of whom passed through Cayman on their way to Haiti last week, and the non-governmental organization Operation Blessing. After Hurricane Ivan in 2004, Operation Blessing came to Cayman to help with the recovery effort.
Haiti is still reeling from the 2010 earthquake and a cholera epidemic that has struck the country in the years since. The Associated Press reported over the weekend that in the Grand Anse Department, hit directly by the storm, 66,000 houses were destroyed and another 20,000 had heavy damage.
Haitian government officials estimated that more than 350,000 people need assistance, according to the AP.
Hurricane Matthew also caused severe damage and deaths from St. Vincent to North Carolina, doing major damage in Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas and up the coast of the United States. At least 10 people died in the U.S. from the storm in recent days before Matthew was downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone Sunday morning.
The Cayman Islands Red Cross launched an emergency fundraising appeal over the weekend to help with the international organization’s efforts to help storm victims. In the appeal, the local Red Cross chapter states, “The Hurricane Matthew Appeal will cover assistance for the most vulnerable in countries currently affected and those potentially affected in the future.”
Several local businesses are making donations to help with the relief efforts. Foster’s Food Fair announced the store will donate $10,000 and take donations from customers. Foster’s said it would split the cash donations between the efforts from Cayman Islands Brewery and the Red Cross.