Panama/Port of Spain, 23 July 2020 — The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is preparing a humanitarian response as the Caribbean braces for their first tropical storm of 2020.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Barbados, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and a tropical storm watch is in effect for the islands of Tobago, St. Lucia, and Grenada. Heavy rainfall, flash flooding and high winds are expected from Friday night through Sunday night.
Effective preparedness and early action in disaster saves lives and livelihoods. The Red Cross is working with communities to ensure they are ready to address possible hurricane conditions during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Across the Caribbean Red Cross volunteers are sharing early warning and preparedness messages, urging people to have food, water, and other necessities available, and to consider personal protection measures, such as masks and hand sanitizer, for emergency go bags.
“Tropical storm Gonzalo has the potential to create a very difficult situation if it makes landfall in the Caribbean, placing greater pressures on vulnerable communities already dealing with COVID-19,” said Walter Cotte, IFRC Regional Director for the Americas.
“COVID-19 can also hamper our response to a disaster with public health restrictions in place. Using humanitarian diplomacy, we are working with governments, advocating for flexibility in the regulatory framework to allow access and movement of humanitarian goods to ensure access in case of disaster in the region.”
In Barbados, Red Cross volunteers and staff are meeting with organizations and government to update emergency response processes, and have been working with the department of emergency management to support community disaster risk teams and to give psychosocial support training to members of district emergency organizations.
To mitigate the impacts of a hurricane and associated flooding, emergency supplies are pre-positioned in key areas throughout the region.
Latin America and the Caribbean are regions very prone to disasters. The IFRC advocates climate change adaptation measures to mitigate the humanitarian impact of these disasters.