Thursday, September 09, 2004

Grenada and Hurricane Ivan

I probably have some of the last pictures taken of Grenada before Hurrican Ivan came through and destroyed everything. I was in Grenada with my dad from Saturday, August 28, 2004 to Saturday, September 4, 2004. My dad was going to stay a few days longer and return on Tuesday, September 7, 2004. Instead, all flights on tuesday were grounded as a category three hurricane nailed Grenada. The eye of the hurricane passed over the southern part of the island--right where my dad was staying. While it was halfway over Grenada, Hurrican Ivan went from a category three to a category four.

The island has been totally destroyed. Just about every building is missing at least a roof and possible two or more walls. The Prime Minister's residence was flattened. The main prison on the island was destroyed and all the prisoners--including the leaders of the 1983 coup--escaped. Groups of machete-wielding men have been looting stores. The British Royal Navy sent a ship--the HMS Richmond--to help keep control.

I spoke to my dad this morning and he was fine. He had tried to ride the hurricane out in the hotel room. Unfortunately, the room was on the top floor of one of the hotel buildings. As he was cowering under the sink, he heard a loud grinding noise. It was the wind ripping roof from the building. During a lull in the storm, he jumped off the balcony to the next floor down and pounded on their door. Luckily there was someone there who let him in.

On Wednesday he decided to walk down to the store. As he went down the hill, he saw a group of people running away from the grocery store. They told him that police were throwing tear gas into the store to stop the looters. He decided to give the store a pass and went back to the hotel. He said that everyone was camped out in the lobby and that there had been a steady stream of people all day because the Flamboyant Hotel had one of the few working land lines.

I can't believe that I was just in Grenada--that I left three days before this hurricane hit. Anyway, I suggest a couple seconds of secular silence for Grenada. It will be years before the island is able to get back on track. Its main export is nutmeg and most of the trees have been destroyed. Its main industry is tourism and I doubt that people are going to be able to/want to visit the island for a long time. Pretty much everyone I met while I was in Grenada depended on tourism as the main means of income. I don't know what they will all do now.


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