Dear parents, families, and friends of the Carpe Diem Cuba group,

Thank you to those who have reached out with questions or concerns regarding Hurricane Matthew.

As many of you know, it is moving through the Caribbean and is currently expected to make landfall in Cuba late Monday night. We have been monitoring it’s progress and have been in touch with the group as well as other contacts in Cuba who are working with the group this week to assess risk and options.

At this time the group is safe, in a good location, and well prepared for the Hurricane. We have been exploring a variety of options and scenarios as we make the decision that feels the most safe for the group.

Currently, they are staying in secure, well-constructed homes in the highest elevation neighborhood in the city of Santiago de Cuba, about 2 miles inland from the bay. No neighborhoods in Santiago have been recommended to evacuate, and after Hurricane Sandy 4 years ago, the city did a lot of work re-enforcing buildings and preparing for future hurricanes. The group, as well as the two families they are staying with, have stocked up on food and water, secured windows, and feel safe where they are.

We are choosing this path as it feels riskier to have them on the road, traveling long distances, especially in case the storm changes paths or causes road closures. Additionally, Santiago is the second largest city in Cuba and will have more support and resources if needed then the smaller towns further inland.

Overall, the group is in good spirits and have a great attitude. Kevin and Michelle will continue to check in with them and be available for support as needed. I remain in contact with the group daily as we monitor events on the ground. After checking in with the group and our on the ground contacts on Monday morning, I will send another email update to parents and families between 10:00 AM and 12:00 PM PST confirming our plans, or alerting you to any changes should the need arise. If the situation changes in any way between now and Monday, you can expect to hear from me tomorrow as well.

We understand how nerve racking this can be when your children are on the ground in a far away place during an event like this. We will do everything we can to continuously assess the risk and make the safest decisions for the group, while keeping you up to date and informed throughout the process. If you have any concerns, please do not hesitate to email me (I will be responding first thing Monday morning) or call the office on Monday.

All the best,

Heather Vaught
Managing Director, Programs and Training

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