Red Cross societies throughout the Caribbean are preparing to respond to Tropical Storm Sandy, expected to strengthen to hurricane force by the time it hits Jamaica today.
Meanwhile, tropical storm watches are up for the east coast of Florida and the Florida Keys, and the American Red Cross is monitoring the storm and putting resources on alert to respond if needed.
CARIBBEAN RESPONSE “We are in close contact with all of the Red Cross societies situated in Tropical Storm Sandy’s path. Disaster Management delegates are ready to be deployed if any society needs direct support to respond to the storm,” said Enrique Guevara, communications officer for the Red Cross Americas Zone.
The Pan-American Disaster Response Unit is tracking the storm and is ready to distribute relief supplies throughout the region as needed. The Jamaican Red Cross has disaster response teams on standby. Prepositioned supplies are in place at the four branch offices in the country, ready for quick distribution after the storm passes.
In Haiti, the Red Cross is working to ensure that people living in camps are aware of the possible risks and knowledgeable about how to prepare and protect themselves. “We know from experience that Haiti is particularly vulnerable to flash floods, so our teams are working to reiterate the Haitian government’s disaster alert system in the camps, warning communities in high-risk areas to get to higher ground when necessary,” said Sinan Al-Najjar, deputy country representative in Haiti for the American Red Cross.
The Red Cross has initiated an SMS (texting) campaign in Haiti and activated sound trucks to provide early warning and preparedness messages. In-country Emergency Response Teams are on standby and able to distribute emergency relief supplies to up to 11,000 families if needed.
“We have been monitoring the storm since it formed as a tropical depression yesterday. Once it increased to tropical storm strength, the Government of Haiti issued an orange-level alert, so we are working closely with members of the National Center for Emergency Operations to monitor and prepare for Sandy accordingly,” said Diene Diouf, disaster risk reduction program delegate for the American Red Cross in Haiti.
GETTING READY Forecasters are still not certain about what path the storm will take as it nears the United States. Florida is not expected to receive any direct impact, but the Red Cross urges Sunshine State residents to be aware of the storm and the wind, heavy rain and rip currents it may bring to the state. Those who may be in the path of the storm should take safety steps like keeping up to date on Sandy’s progress, updating family emergency plans, and building or updating the household disaster kits.
RED CROSS HURRICANE APP People can download the free Red Cross Hurricane App for mobile devices and have real time hurricane safety information at their fingertips. They can use the app to receive weather alerts and get information on Red Cross shelters. The app also features a toolkit with a flashlight, strobe light and alarm, and the one-touch “I’m Safe” button lets someone use social media outlets to tell family and friends they are okay. The Hurricane App can be found in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for Android by searching for American Red Cross.
The hurricane app is also available in Spanish. Users just need to make sure the language setting on their smart phone is set to Spanish before downloading the app.