The Jamaica Red Cross, usually on the giving end in times of disaster, is now appealing for help after a fire destroyed its St Ann’s Bay office on March 18.
Reports are that fire was spotted coming from the rear section of the rented wooden structure, located on the grounds of the St Ann Parish Church, around 7 p.m. The fire brigade was summoned, but the building was beyond saving when the firemen arrived, as the flames had engulfed the structure by then.
However, the Anglican church hall situated next to the Red Cross building was saved from damage.
Items destroyed in the building included training material for first aid and CPR, computers and other office equipment, clothing, and food recently donated by Food For The Poor, which the branch was not yet able to distribute.
The cause of the fire and the cost of the damage have not yet been ascertained.
“This presents us with quite a setback,” lamented Yvonne Clarke, director general of the Jamaica Red Cross. “The facilities may not have been the most modern, but [they] provided us with a base from which to operate, and this now will be adding to the number of branches where we do not have a physical space.”
Clarke continued: “We are really appealing to the powers that be to help us – parish council, the mayor and others – to identify some space from which we can operate because we are indeed looking at the hurricane season.”
Dr Jaslin Salmon, vice-president of the Jamaica Red Cross, said while the focus is on finding a new location as quickly as possible, the aid agency was happy that no one was injured in the blaze.
Clarke and Salmon were in St Ann at training sessions for Red Cross personnel, as the organisation prepares for the 2019 hurricane season.
Meanwhile, branch director for St Ann, Karen Brown, echoed Clarke’s sentiments in appealing for a location to house the Red Cross in St Ann’s Bay.
“While we are in this tragedy, we still have to provide support,” Brown stated. “We have a lot of needy people, so we need a physical space right now from which to operate, so we want to make that appeal at this time. We want to get back on foot as soon as we can so that we can provide support to the parish.”