Emergency appeal for survivors of Hurricane Dean

Note: The following appeal is now closed.  You can support our ongoing work by donating to the Canadian Red Cross


22 August 2007

Canadian Red Cross is appealing for financial donations, to support a $1.4 million request for funds from the Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The money will help 35,000 people affected by Hurricane Dean, which has left a trail of destruction over the course of several days. 

National Red Cross Societies across the region have been preparing for and responding to Dean’s devastation since last week. All along the hurricane’s deadly path, volunteers and staff from the Red Cross have been managing evacuation shelters, pre-positioning food and relief supplies, and encouraging residents to move to storm shelters.

The International Federation’s Pan-American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) has also been monitoring the situation, helping with coordination and ensuring that emergency communications have been maintained, thanks to a high frequency radio system. 

“The Red Cross’ response to this year’s first hurricane has been extremely well prepared, coordinated and executed,” says the head of PADRU, Stephen McAndrew. “Dean has demonstrated, once again, that planning and preparedness really pay off when it comes to protecting people. But many vulnerable and remote communities have suffered a lot of damage and are going to need support in getting back on their feet.” 

After killing 11 people on its rampage through the Caribbean, Dean reached Category 5 – the strongest type of hurricane – before it tore into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, near the border with Belize, on Tuesday. Water roared down streets, trees and light posts were downed, and many buildings were damaged. Assessments are still taking place, especially in isolated areas, to determine the full extent of the impact.

In anticipation of Dean, the Mexican Red Cross deployed its National Intervention Team to the Yucatan Peninsula, along with 2,000 food kits. Early warnings were also issued to the public via the Red Cross on the radio, aimed at reaching out to the region’s indigenous population. In addition, tents, tarps, hygiene items and food were pre-positioned in northern Belize ahead of the storm’s arrival. 

In Jamaica, thousands of evacuated residents have started returning to their homes after the sustained winds tore roofs off of buildings and uprooted trees on the island. According to the Jamaican Red Cross, affected communities are in need of food support, along with tarpaulins, cooking utensils and hygiene items. 

Some of the hardest-hit areas are normally sustained by farming and fishing activities, and local Red Cross officials say the recovery effort will need to help people regain their livelihoods and repair their homes. Red Cross Societies in other areas, including Haiti, Dominica, St Lucia and Martinique say similar assistance is needed there.

Money from the International Federation’s appeal will be used to provide 35,000 people in the affected countries with basic supplies, including water purification tablets, blankets and sheets, flash lights and mosquito repellent, as well as replenish depleted relief stocks in the Caribbean. More detailed evaluations will also be carried out to determine vulnerable communities’ longer-term needs.

Canadians wishing to support relief and recovery activities in the wake of Hurricane Dean are encouraged to contribute by donating online, calling 1-800-418-1111 or contacting their local Canadian Red Cross office. Cheques should be made payable to the Canadian Red Cross, earmarked “Hurricanes 2007” and mailed to Canadian Red Cross National Office, 170 Metcalfe Street, Suite 300, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2P2. Donations of goods are not accepted.