Panama/Geneva, 18 September 2017 – The Red Cross is once again at high alert as Hurricane Maria threatens to bring new misery to the eastern Caribbean.

Maria has been upgraded to a Category 3 Hurricane, and has prompted hurricane warnings for Martinique, Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Kitts, Nevis and Montserrat. Tropical storm warnings are in effect for Antigua and Barbuda, Saba, St Eustatious and St Lucia.

We are worried about Maria for two reasons,” said Lorenzo Violante, who is coordinating post-Irma relief efforts from Antigua for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). “First: we’re worried about the impact it could have on communities in its path. This includes people who were affected Irma and are highly vulnerable to a new threat, as well as people in places like Guadeloupe that were spared the worst of Hurricane Irma.

But we are also extremely concerned about the impact Maria could have – in reality is already having – on relief and recovery efforts that were launched in response to Irma. At the very least, Hurricane Maria will make it harder for us to bring in aid.

It will make it difficult for boats to reach shores, or for planes to land, and the result of that is that people across the Caribbean will need to wait longer for support.”

Red Cross volunteers and staff are preparing for Maria’s arrival. In Puerto Rico, volunteers and supplies are being mobilized to ensure a rapid response once the hurricane passes. In in U.S. Virgin Islands, the Red Cross is expanding emergency shelter efforts in St John, St Thomas and St Croix . In Antigua where Maria is expected to bring heavy rainfall, volunteers are distributing tarpaulins to vulnerable families displaced by Irma. In St Kitts, dozens of volunteers are handing out basic household supplies to families.

Additional regional and global emergency teams have been placed on alert for rapid deployment once Maria passes.

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Media contacts

In Antigua
Giovanni Zambello
+1 (268) 773-0460
giovanni.zambello@ifrc.org

In Panama
Diana Medina
+507 6780-5395
diana.medina@ifrc.org

In Geneva
Matthew Cochrane
+41 79 251 80 39
matthew.cochrane@ifrc.org