Help on its way for hurricane devastated Grenada

Published: 10 September 2004 0:00 CET

Allison Ali

One of the worst hurricanes in living memory battered the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada on Tuesday. Hurricane Ivan has devastated 90 per cent of the country’s infrastructure, claimed the lives of at least 12 people and caused hundreds of millions of dollars of damage.

Virtually cut off from the outside world, the extent of the damage began to emerge on Wednesday when a videotape shot from a British naval helicopter showed widespread destruction over a large area. Winds of up to 125mph flattened homes, disrupted power and caused major flooding. On the island there is no drinking water and electricity. Approximately 60,000 people have been left homeless and currently 5,000 to 8,000 people are accommodated in some 47 shelters across the island.

Grenada’s capital, St George’s was also devastated by the category five storm, the highest on the scale. Almost every major building in the picturesque city suffered structural damage. The storm also destroyed the city’s emergency operations centre and badly damaged the main hospital.

In addition the headquarters of the Grenada Red Cross was devastated, severely hampering the relief effort. Because of the severity of the disaster only 10 Red Cross volunteers have so far been able to report for duty across the island.

However international help is at hand. A disaster team which includes the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies is in Grenada. But as Hurricane Ivan continues to track its north-westerly route toward Jamaica and Cuba, the humanitarian organisation is taking no chances and is preparing to pre-position aid workers on the two islands.

Meanwhile Julian Gore-Booth, Co-coordinator of the Trinidad Sub-Regional Office of the Federation, said the Red Cross would be launching an Emergency Appeal on Friday to cover all the countries in the Caribbean affected by Hurricane Ivan.

“We do not know the cost of damages in Grenada, but we estimate it to be in the millions. The tourist, yachting and agricultural sectors have all been destroyed. So the economic impact on a small island like Grenada is extremely harsh. It is going to take many years to recover,” said Mr Gore-Booth.

“Our role is to assist vulnerable and that is precisely what we’re doing in Grenada. If the hurricane hits Jamaica and Cuba we will be there too,” he added.

In other developments offers of help continue to pour in from other Red Cross societies in the region. The Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross as well as the Bermuda Red Cross have both launched appeals. And the Barbados Red Cross has started to take donations from people wanting assist in the relief effort.

“This was a very bad hurricane and many people have been affected. We are trying to help our fellow Red Cross in Grenada to assist the people affected by this terrible tragedy. This is the least that we can do right now,” said Mrs Judy Boopsingh, a spokeperson from Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross.