The Barbados Red Cross Society, in collaboration with four major commercial banks, today launched a hurricane relief account for Barbadians to make monetary donations for victims affected by the catastrophic Hurricane Irma.
Speaking at a press conference this morning at the headquarters of CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank, director general of the Barbados Red Cross Society Edmond Bradshaw said the aim is to gather financial donations to restore the livelihood of those impacted and offer long and short-term support.
Thousands of people were displaced and almost 40 people were killed in the Caribbean as Hurricane Irma ripped through the region last week. Some islands were almost completely devastated.
“Our hearts are torn as we reach out to support the families and friends of those so violently taken from their lives,” Bradshaw said, adding that Red Cross volunteers trained in psychosocial support would also stand by those who were traumatized by a hurricane that it would take months and even years to recover from.
Beyond the commercial banks, governments and international agencies have started to channel much needed money through the Red Cross appeal worldwide. The account launched today is part of that worldwide appeal.
Bradshaw said that, over the years, Barbadians have been more willing to assist others in times of natural disasters.
“When I started the first appeal I did, the response was small, but I have seen a situation in Barbados now where, over the years, everybody is interested in helping and supporting, and I think Barbadians by nature are a very kind people,” he said. ‘
Managing director of CIBC First Caribbean Barbados, Donna Wellington told the media that the bank’s operations in several territories were affected, and it is donating US$450,000 to organizations providing humanitarian relief.
“Seven islands in which we have operations – British Virgin Islands, St Martin, Anguilla, Turks and Caicos, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, and St Kitts and Nevis – were affected by the storm. It disrupted operations at 25 branches and affected about 800 of our team members. Operations have restarted in all but one of the hard-hit islands, St Martin, but our priority is the wellbeing of our clients and people,” she said.
Meantime, Barbados has been chosen to serve as one of the main staging points for the Hurricane Irma relief effort in the region.
Programme Manager, Agriculture and Industry with the CARICOM Secretariat, Nisa Surujbally, told the 11th Meeting of the Regional Planners Forum on Agriculture at the Hilton Barbados that plans are also being advanced for a donor’s conference which will be convened soon to ensure full coordination and effective use of resources.
“Our Secretary General has indicated that while he had seen the film footage, the actual scenes were far more harrowing and he has pledged that the entire Community will work to the end to assist the affected countries,” she said.