Press Release: National 9.12.08

AMERICAN RED CROSS SENDS RELIEF TO CUBA

Nearly 400,000 people still in shelters

[WASHINGTON, DC, Friday, September 12, 2008] -The American Red Cross is committing $1 million from its International Response Fund to support the disaster relief efforts of the Red Cross in Cuba in response to the devastation caused by two consecutive hurricanes. Nearly 400,000 people remain in shelters and the agricultural sector is severely damaged.

“The situation in the Caribbean, particularly in Cuba and Haiti, is desperate and our hearts go out to the people impacted by the recent calamities,” said David Meltzer, senior vice president of international services at the American Red Cross.

When Hurricane Gustav hit the island of Cuba on August 31 as a category 4 storm, it was considered the worst storm to hit the island in 50 years. Just as recovery efforts for the first hurricane were underway, Hurricane Ike hit eastern Cuba as a category 3 hurricane and slowly moved west over two long days, affecting 100 percent of the island and exacerbating the damage from Gustav.

“The infrastructure has been hit hard,” says Josè Reyes, disaster management delegate in Cuba for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies since. “In addition, about one-third of the population was evacuated during the storms and 30,000 houses were destroyed and 320,000 houses were affected.”

A cargo plan carrying emergency kits for 3,300 families already arrived in Cuba from the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies’ regional disaster unit in Panama. More supplies will be transported as needed.

Currently the Cuban Red Cross is working in shelters, distributing food and delivering first aid. The American Red Cross contribution will support the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in their distribution of relief supplies, shelter kits and supplies, water filters and materials to repair damaged homes.

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