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Caribbean Storm Victims Still in Great Need, Agencies Say

More than a month after Hurricane Ivan battered the eastern Caribbean, causing severe destruction to the island of Grenada, its long-term effects are now being analyzed
( [email protected] ) Oct 20, 2004 03:04 AM EDT

More than a month after Hurricane Ivan battered the eastern Caribbean, causing severe destruction to the island of Grenada, its long-term effects are now being analyzed, reported a global alliances of churches and related agencies. Ivan, the worst hurricane in Grenada’s recorded history, surpassed the ferocity of Hurricane Janet in 1955 – the last to inflict such damage.


According to Action by Churches Together (ACT), it is currently estimated that 85,000 people of a total population of 100,000 are now homeless and live in the public buildings that have survived the storm. These include churches and makeshift shelters. A significant number of people are living in private homes that are now stretched to capacity.

ACT member, Christian Aid (CA), together with its partners in Grenada and Jamaica, has assessed the situation and plans to respond with assistance to the more vulnerable of the communities affected. In Grenada they are focusing on the support of the children and young population as the hurricane hit when students were about to commence the new academic year. Therefore CA is proposing projects comprising: skills training programs for teenagers to involve them in the reconstruction activities; temporary education for children while the schools are being rebuilt and psychosocial support to the young population.

Meanwhile, in the nearby Haitian city of Gonaives, where Tropical Jeanne killed 3,000 people last month and left 100,000 dependent on food help, sources say unrest in the war-torn nation may force the United Nations to divert ships carrying food for flood victims to the Dominican Republic, where the aid can be put on trucks.

Last week, workers from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) assessed Haiti's storm-wracked northern region in preparation for potential aid initiatives there.

David Sadoo, international field staff for the agency, described roads that have been "sheared off" by mudslides and covered with boulders. To reach the countryside north of Gonaives, where 3,000 are dead or missing and feared dead, the UMCOR team passed damaged or flattened homes, forded rivers where bridges had collapsed, and observed destruction of the garden plots that, in better times, had provided a livelihood for Haitian families.

In Gonaives, once a thriving cotton-production center, Sadoo said that political violence combined with the desperation of hunger creates a volatile climate. The team spoke with representatives of the United Nations' World Food Program, who reported that ships with containers full of emergency food are waiting to be unloaded, but dockworkers, fearing violence, are avoiding the ports.

Focusing on the Gonaives region, UMCOR is assisting ecumenical partners to clear debris, rehab schools, and provide fresh water. Any new UMCOR aid interventions are likely to target the underserved areas north and east of the city.