Disaster management expert Nate Cooper is in Saint Lucia to assess damage from recent floods. He took a moment today to update us on his work from the national Red Cross headquarters in the city of Castries.
Saint Lucia was heavily impacted by Hurricane Tomas, which tore off roofs and caused a number of mudslides in this mountainous Caribbean country. More than two weeks after the hurricane, the deluge of heavy rain continues.
“We were going to one city today for a damage assessment,” Nate says, “and a landslide cut us off. Later, when trying to visit another, we were turned back by two landslides.”
Hurricane Tomas struck in late October, provoking landslides, damaging infrastructure and disrupting electricity, communications and water services. In response, the American Red Cross is providing $75,000 for shelter, as well as 3900 mosquito nets, 500 kitchen sets and 1,663 hygiene kits.
But clearly the disaster is not over. “I just heard on the radio that a number of communities that we responded to a few days ago are partially underwater again,” Nate explains.
The Saint Lucia Red Cross is assisting shelters today with food and water, and will re-assess damage tomorrow as the rains die down. In the meantime, about thirty school kids are spending the night in the headquarters of the Red Cross, unable to get back home.
“Water is soaking the roads and flooding between houses. A lot of fallen trees have blocked up the river. We haven’t had a disaster like this in a long time.”
The silver lining? Thanks to a disaster preparedness project lead in part by the American Red Cross, Saint Lucia is better prepared for these storms.
“It’s impressive to see the difference over the last three years,” Nate says. “Trained community teams mobilize immediately, helping until the Red Cross arrives. In the twelve communities we have visited so far, we had already identified before these storms the exact risks that residents would face.”
Tomas hit Haiti a week after it struck Saint Lucia. Although it was much less severe than expected, it flooded areas in the southwest, killing 21 people and damaging over 1,000 homes. Learn here about Red Cross disaster preparedness and response work in Haiti.
The American Red Cross continues to monitor the situation and is prepared to offer additional support if needed.