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Emergency Response Unit Sent to Madagascar to Assist Flood Relief Efforts


The American Red Cross has deployed three international disaster response delegates to Madagascar to assist the on-going disaster recovery efforts. This year Madagascar has been hit by six severe cyclones, an unprecedented number in its recorded history, combined with a heavier than normal rainy season. These events have taken the lives of more than 85 people, affected more than 450,000, destroyed homes and ruined this year’s rice crop. Rice is a staple crop and a major commodity for the island nation. Further tropical storms and cyclones are expected to reach Madagascar in the coming weeks, as the cyclone season continues until the end of April or early May.

“Sending a small number of experienced relief delegates is one of the most constructive and cost effective ways the American Red Cross can support the International Federation and local Red Cross societies in times of emergency,” said Nan Buzard, senior director of the International Disaster Response Unit at the American Red Cross. “By sending three delegates from the American Red Cross International Disaster Response we are lending a helping hand to the Malagasy Red Cross Society when they need it most, and working with local relief and government organizations on the ground provides support people who have lost their homes and their livelihoods.”

The international disaster response delegates will be coordinating relief operations in partnership with Red Cross and external partners to ensure that relief and recovery efforts reach the people most in need, in the hardest to reach areas in the Northwest of the island. According to Brigitte Gaillis, one of the American Red Cross delegates, “The storms and flooding have prevented access into the Northwest region of the island until the past week. Now we can start getting emergency relief to the people in these hard to reach areas.” Relief operations were hampered by the impassability of roads, the closure of regional airfields and that two consecutive storms hit landfall within miles of each other. “The relief operations after Cyclone Indlala had to be put on standby for 48 hours because Cyclone Jaya made landfall just a few miles north,” said Gaillis. Only after the ground dried-out were relief teams able to access many remote areas.

Gaillis continued, “The latest storm hit at the peak of the harvest season and just a few miles north of where the last cyclone made landfall. Many local farmers have lost everything - their fields and their homes.”

In March, the American Red Cross sent Gaillis to serve on the International Federation’s Field Assessment and Coordination Team (FACT) in Madagascar. As a member of the FACT team, she assisted in the initial damage assessments to determine how to best provide services and support to the most vulnerable people. Gaillis will be joined this week by her American Red Cross colleagues, Colin Chaperon and Greg Matthews. Chaperon and Matthews will form part of the Relief Emergency Response Unit (ERU) which will be based on the western side of the island to support the distribution of food and disaster relief items such as malaria-preventing insecticide treated bednets, kitchen sets, sleeping mats, and tools.

Chaperon, serving as team leader, will focus on coordination with the Malagasy Red Cross Society, the national government and other relief organizations. Matthews will work closely with Red Cross and Red Crescent national society counterparts conducting assessments and monitoring relief supply distributions to ensure that necessary relief items necessary for basic survival get to the people who need them most.

Among the three of them, these delegates have taken part in several international disaster responses with the American Red Cross, including the typhoons in the Philippines, floods in Haiti, the food crisis in Niger, and the earthquake and subsequent winter preparedness operations in Pakistan.

See and for more information related to this response.

You can help those affected by countless crises around the world each year by making a financial gift to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, which will provide immediate relief and long-term support through supplies, technical assistance and other support to help those in need. Call 1-800-RED CROSS or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Contributions to the International Response Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting The American Red Cross honors donor intent. If you wish to designate your donation to a specific disaster please do so at the time of your donation.


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