The Cayman Islands Red Cross is launching a Hurricane Irma appeal as the storm that devastated some islands in the eastern Caribbean continues to wreak havoc throughout the region.
“We really don’t know the extent of the damage as full assessments haven’t been conducted yet, but based on what we have seen and heard, Irma has been catastrophic for several nations,” said director Jondo Obi in a press release.
“The Anguilla Red Cross has lost its headquarters, and as has now been widely reported, the island of Barbuda has basically been declared uninhabitable.”
She added, “We are still working on establishing contact with our counterparts throughout the region, and those with whom we have reached have stated that they are physically well but emotionally devastated.”
The CIRC’s Irma appeal is strictly for monetary donations, and the organization urged residents not to make arrangements to send supplies to the affected areas.
“The arrival of unsolicited donations into a disaster zone is at times referred to as the second disaster,” said the CIRC’s deputy director, Carolina Ferreira.
“The items that most people would like to donate, like clothing, shoes, household items and toys, are not a priority in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophe, and when they arrive into affected areas, they create numerous problems for workers on the ground.”
The release noted that unsolicited donations are not only difficult and costly to send, but in areas where major ports have been affected and alternative locations are being utilized, they become difficult for organizations to access and collect, if they are even made aware of their existence at all.
Clearing and collecting such goods also means diverting personnel and equipment away from more pressing tasks, like damage assessments, the Red Cross stated.
“There is also the issue of sorting and storage, as such widespread devastation means that many buildings have been affected and there is a shortage of space. Lastly, often times the affected population is not in a position to be able to receive these goods at the time when they are sent,” the organization said.
Keith Ford, disaster manager for the Cayman Islands Red Cross, explained that the organization is a branch of the British Red Cross, and the funds it collects in Cayman go directly to the most affected areas as part of the larger appeal by the British Red Cross and the International Federation.
“The people of these Eastern Caribbean islands are already going to need a lot of help, but the truth is that Jose is following closely behind a similar path and set to turn into a major hurricane itself. We must help,” he said.
People who wish to donate to the Cayman Islands Red Cross Hurricane Irma Caribbean Appeal can do so via direct deposit to Bank of Butterfield Account 1360350540060 or at the Red Cross’s Cayman Corporate Centre office on 27 Hospital Road, 1st Floor. For more information contact 916-3345 or [email protected].