The Cayman Islands Red Cross reopened its doors on Wednesday after undergoing extensive renovations.
Two years ago, the Red Cross launched its ‘Shelter from the Storm’ fundraising campaign to pay for the revamping of its headquarters to ensure it met the standards set out in the Cayman Islands Building Code. The campaign raised $600,000 in cash and kind.
Red Cross director Jondo Obi said, “The opening is such a significant day for us because this building is an old building, and over time it’s been a shelter, where we hold our training and community meetings and so many things, so it’s nice to have a building that is up to code, and it’s also nice to have a building that people can access better.”
The renovations, made possible through donations of funds, building materials and professional services, were carried out by a variety of local companies. The work included installing a new roof and insulation, removing and rerouting cables and pipes, paving, landscaping, installing windows, and adding toilets, a shower, a kitchen and offices.
Tara Rivers, minister of home affairs, speaking at the grand opening ceremony, said that the shelter is now a flagship emergency relief centre for Grand Cayman.
“This really is truly a community effort – the much-needed renovations, including the strengthening of the roof, installing better insulation, and a number of other improvements that were necessary to bring the building in line with our robust building code,” Rivers said.
Rivers added that the Red Cross continues to be a key stakeholder in the government’s national disaster plan strategy.
“The Red Cross is always the first open [in emergencies], as was indeed the case in the aftermath of the 7.7 magnitude earthquake that we experienced two weeks ago, when the
Red Cross activated the shelter within an hour of experiencing the earthquake,” Rivers said.
Obi said having a modern facility in which Red Cross volunteers and the shelter management team can meet is vital to the organisation’s operations.
“One thing that is very important for people to know is that our shelter managers … might be at work or, if it’s a weekend, at home. Within an hour, we can mobilise them and have the shelter open. This is all volunteer-based, so kudos to our volunteers.”
Obi said the Red Cross still has some interior tweaks to carry out and is working on those with an interior designer.