Ivan Hits Below the Belt
It was first tracked, out in the Atlantic, as Tropical Depression Number Nine by the US National Hurricane Center on Thursday, September 2nd. By Sunday the 5th it was Hurricane Ivan, with the NHC noting that "it is unprecedented to have a hurricane this strong at such a low latitude in the Atlantic Basin".
Two days later, at Category 3 ("Extensive Damage") on the Saffir-Simpson scale, Ivan struck land below what insurance companies consider "the hurricane belt", slamming the island of Grenada's southern half. Ivan strengthened even as it tore over Grenada, becoming a Category 4 storm and eventually growing to Category 5, the highest on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Ivan's maximum recorded winds were 165 mph (143 knots).
After sideswiping Jamaica, and then bashing the Cayman Islands, western Cuba and the US Gulf Coast, Ivan still was not finished. The storm traveled inland, came back out into the Atlantic, looped down over Florida, and three weeks after TD#9 first attracted attention, the remnants of Ivan dumped rain on the Texas coast.
Ivan was an unusual system in an unusually busy hurricane season, with seven hurricanes recorded in the seven weeks between July 31st and September 23, 2004, and four active weather systems ranging from tropical depressions to hurricanes boiling in the Atlantic as this issue of Compass goes to press.
According to Associated Press reports, Ivan swirled across 11 countries, killing at least 39 people in Grenada, 15 in Jamaica, five in Venezuela, four in the Dominican Republic, three in Haiti, one in Tobago and one in Barbados. On September 7th, when Ivan's evil eye passed over Grenada, buildings were also damaged in Barbados, St. Vincent & the Grenadines and St. Lucia. Scientists have attributed the hurricane's southerly track to the effects of an unusually large and powerful Bermuda High.
Ivan generated sustained winds of 120 mph (104 knots) as it charged through Grenada, fortunately moving fast toward the west. For those who experienced the worst of it, Hurricane Ivan was "unbelievable horrific". Yacht surveyor Bob Goodchild says, "I went through Luis and Marilyn and I've never seen such devastation or complete destruction of infrastructure."
The storm's direct impact blasted Grenada's most heavily populated southern parishes of St. George's and St. David's. Telephone, water, radio, television and electricity services were disrupted and roads blocked by fallen utility poles and trees. Customs and Immigration services at ports of entry and Air Traffic Control at the airport were interrupted. Looting was rampant. The roof blew off the prison and the prisoners, since recaptured, escaped.
Grenada's Prime Minister Keith Mitchell estimated that 90 percent of the island's buildings were damaged, including many in the historic town of St. George's - the new national sports stadium, the emergency agency's office, the fire station, police stations, churches, schools, shops, warehouses and homes including the Prime Minister's own residence.
One homeowner wrote to a friend: "Our bedroom upstairs which got the full force of the wind was like someone had thrown a grenade in the middle of the room. The big heavy double bed exploded into tiny pieces after our roof was ripped off, the electrical sockets have been sucked off the walls, the glass window completely ripped out of the wall with its frame, the list goes on. Some of the doors just disintegrated."
Contrasting with Florida's four strikes in six weeks this hurricane season, before Ivan Grenada had not had a direct hit by a hurricane since Janet struck in 1955, and not another for a half-century before that. For most Grenadians, who had no living memory of such weather, Ivan's powers of demolition were unimaginable. In one way, Janet had been even worse. According to Beverley Steele's Grenada: A History of its People, Janet took 120 lives on Grenada itself, and 27 more on Carriacou and Petite Martinique. But much of Steele's description of Janet and descriptions of Ivan are the same: "the roofs of most people's houses were blown off. Many small wooden houses disintegrated in the wind".
In the 49 years between Janet and Ivan, Grenada has grown and has developed its economy to include a vibrant tourism industry and, notably, a fast-growing yachting industry, both of which suffered from Ivan's wrath. Grenada's yachting sector has expanded from one main marina hosting a couple dozen "gold plater" charter yachts, to a service and storage mecca with a range of modern facilities capable of catering to several hundred yachts. These facilities, along with most resort hotels, are clustered in the area hardest hit by the hurricane.
Compass has collected the following information from a number of sources, including first-hand communications, official news reports and internet postings. Due to the fact that communication to Grenada (and sometimes even within the island) was still difficult as we went to press, we have not been able to confirm all statements directly. We have used information from what we believe are reliable sources, and will follow up in next month's Compass.
According to an internet posting by Jeremy and Léonie Shaw of the yacht Zingano, there were approximately 670 boats in Grenada prior to the arrival of Hurricane Ivan. Of these about half were hauled out in one of the two yards - about 18 percent of those on the hard at Grenada Marine were blown over and all but a handful fell at Spice Island Marine. Among the boats afloat before Ivan, approximately one third ended up sunk or aground.
Lists of specific boats and their conditions can be found at a number of websites, including www.imagehaven.com/boatwatch.asp, www.mallaig.com/forum/, www.clarkescourtbaymarina.com/ivan/ccbm.htm and http://reservationsbvi.com/Grenada/. Kudos to marina owners and staff, cruising individuals and others who contribute to these sites. Ivan's impact on Grenada's main yacht harbors is summarized as follows. Note that many of the yachts afloat sustained varying degrees of damage, especially from other vessels which dragged.
St. George's Lagoon
Of the over 40 boats in the Lagoon, the Shaws say, about half ended up aground and a few sank. The concrete docks at the Yacht Club are reportedly intact. One eye-witness (no pun intended) reported that as the hurricane passed over the Lagoon, he saw at least three mini-tornadoes inflicting especially savage damage to the area.
Another writes: "The weather was fair with some rain and mild to moderate gusts until about 1400, then Ivan arrived with a fury I hope never to see again. As the wind intensified the boats would swing in 180-degree arcs, and several began dragging anchor. Two people were seen fending off each others' boats and trying to reset their anchors as the full brunt of the storm hit. The front-side wind came directly down the lagoon, and visibility was reduced to 50 feet at most. All that could be seen were part of houses and roofs flying by. As the eye passed over, visibility improved and we could see that very few boats were left at anchor. All were piled, up to four deep, on shore. As the eye passed, the wind veered 180 degrees and blew out of the lagoon, again obliterating all visibility. This lasted until about 1830 and in the dusk, only carnage could be seen."
Accounts vary. One source tell us that of 14 boats in Prickly Bay, nine were left afloat after the storm, another says that of 28, three were left afloat. Yet another writes, "of the 32 boats in Prickly Bay, 14 remained afloat. However it is likely that some of the boats recorded in Prickly Bay went there after the storm, and it is known that several boats were swept out to sea by the north wind, and a few came back on the south wind." One correspondent counted 20 boats on the shore.
An eye-witness says the bay experienced steep six-foot seas during north winds in the hurricane. Two people reportedly died here after trying to ride out the storm on their boats, one after being hit by a boom, and one after being rescued from his boat onto another, which subsequently went aground.
Mt. Hartman Bay
Of some 90 boats in Mount Hartman Bay (Secret Harbour), which included some charter boats evacuated from The Moorings' Canouan base, over 50 remained afloat and about ten were sunk. Six boats reportedly sank at the Martin's Marina dock. A handful of people who had elected to stay aboard boats at the dock changed their minds when the storm hit, and ran to the men's shower, whose roof blew off. They huddled there for several hours.
Eyewitnesses said the second half of the storm did most of the damage, caused by surge and waves. An internet posting by Bill Langlois of S/V Hope says, "The outer bay was full of boats at the start. One was still there after the storm. Five are on the reef. Probably another 20 or 30 are up on the rocks. The rest are missing. We watched a red Italian boat blow to sea. They got blown back onto a reef somewhere and radioed that they were still alive this morning."
Of the 32 boats in Hog Island, two went aground (one was quickly pulled off) and one - a trimaran - "flew", dismasted some boats and capsized.
We are told that only one of the 15 boats anchored in the Clarke's Court cut sank, and none were grounded. Of the 40 or so boats in Clarke's Court Bay Marina, about half remained afloat. Some boats apparently went adrift tied to a section of floating dock.
Calivigny Harbour (Old Harbour)
None of the 17 boats in Calivigny Harbour sank, the Shaws report. "The liveaboards all came out well. Other boats (unattended) grounded."
Only two of the more than 40 boats in Egmont sank (at least one after being struck by a large boat which dragged). About 15 were grounded. The Shaws note: "The French yacht La Flibuste has done a great job dragging 11 boats off on a voluntary basis."
Meanwhile, in the Grenadines
Being even a few miles from Ivan's eye made a big difference, as the following accounts show.
Roy Hopper of Tyrrel Bay Yacht Haulout, Carriacou, reports: "The only damage sustained by the boatyard was damage to dock piers by a steel freighter which landed here. The boats hauled out in the boatyard and the ones we secured in the mangroves were not damaged." Cruiser Jim Hutchinson of Ambia, who was tucked into Tyrrel Bay's mangroves, estimates that there were 50 or 60 yachts and some 30 ships in the mangroves' first bay, and about three dozen farther in. While the shallower-draft boats who could get into the far reaches of the mangroves fared very well, yachts in the first bay were menaced by a number of dragging freighters. Another ship was reportedly aground on the northeast corner of Carriacou.
From Mayreau, Mark de Silva reports: "There has been a tremendous amount of coral rubble deposited all over with 'islands' forming on the reefs at Grand Tarchie as well as at Clifton and Ashton." We are also advised that Grand de Coi reef off Union Island now uncovers two to three feet. A few yachts reportedly went aground at Union Island, and a commercial vessel which attempted to shelter at Spring Bay, Bequia, was blown ashore.
Cruisers whose boats weathered the hurricane in Grenada are helping those who weren't so lucky in more ways than can be counted. Many whose boats are seaworthy have sailed to other islands, many to Trinidad where a dinghy contingent went out to assist their arrival, delivering fuel or towing if needed. In Chaguaramas there were offers of free dockage and meals. Other yachts have sailed to Grenada, bearing supplies and moral support. Boatowners overseas are gathering information and contacting their insurance companies; many have already returned to Grenada to begin putting things to rights. Barges with equipment are on the way to right yachts that toppled on the hard.
Along with others on the island, Grenada's marine business community strove mightily to get its shops and facilities up and running again as quickly as possible after the storm - albeit perhaps without phones, or from a temporary location, or while some owners' and workers' own homes were still roofless or without power and water. Others are re-opening their doors as this issue of Compass goes to press, or planning to be fully operational soon - the Clarke's Court Bay Marina website reports: "As for CCBM, we are working to get docks repositioned and back in place in November."
Grenada's economy has suffered a severe setback. For many affected by this storm, not only are homes, businesses and boats damaged or destroyed, but some of the mental and emotional damage may take years to repair. But as one skipper wrote to a friend, "There will be too many stories to tell, but right now we have got to clean out our bombshell of a house and then see if we can drag some boats off the rocks without putting ourselves in danger. Today is beautiful and sunny, the weather back to normal."
Leslie of CCBM posted on their website: "We can't let this thing beat us."
Many thanks to all sources of information used in compiling this report, and to Nicola Redway for internet info-gathering.
Additional information can be found at http://stormcarib.com, www.spiceisle.com,
www.caribbeanracing.com, www.doyleguides.com/grenada_hurricane_page.htm and www.arrl.org/sections/VI.html.
How Caribbean Neighbours Are
Help for Grenada
After Hurricane Ivan assaulted Grenada on Tuesday, September 7th, it quickly became clear that Grenada was in need of immediate assistance. The following day, teams from the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA), USAID's Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) were in Grenada providing support to the stressed Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) personnel and confirming priority needs. The Regional Security System quickly deployed security personnel to assist the Commissioner of Police maintain law and order, and the Caribbean Disaster Response Unit (CDRU) acted to provide logistical management.
Emergency Assistance Funds operated by CDERA, the Caribbean Development Bank and the FirstCaribbean International Bank were activated, and CDERA opened an appeals account at FirstCaribbean International at their 80 branches in 20 countries in the Caribbean to support deployment of the response teams.
The HMS Richmond assisted injured persons and helped the general hospital get back up and running. Health kits for up to 5,000 people over a three-month period and 5,000 doses of oral rehydration packets to prevent dehydration from diarrhea - a particular threat to children under five - were flown in from UNICEF's regional center in Panama and were rushed to the main hospital, where distribution began immediately.
Other agencies involved in the relief effort included the International Federation of the Red Cross, Canadian International Development Agency, USAID/Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance, UNDP, FAO, OXFAM, RSS, DFID, OAS, European Commission, and IDB. Governments, churches, NGO's and service clubs around the region pitched in.
About 10 tons of donated supplies - from drinking water to tarpaulins and medicine - arrived Friday, September 10th aboard a fishing boat from nearby Trinidad & Tobago. Private citizens came up with the donations quickly, said Bruce Milve, a 45-year-old Trinidadian who helped organize the shipment. "That's just how Caribbean neighbours are," he said.
Among other islands, including St. Vincent and Barbados, themselves damaged by the storm, Bequia also responded swiftly. Donations of supplies from businesses and from private individuals, spearheaded by Wilfred Dederer and Nicola Redway, came flooding in to a collection room donated by Joan and Sylvester Simmons. The Bequia Tourism Association and their staff played a vital role in coordinating and assisting with the effort, and Bequia taxi and truck drivers willingly donated their services. Cash donations from Bequians and tourists totaled over EC$1,600 in just eight hours, and this sum was immediately used to purchase yet more relief supplies.
By late afternoon on Saturday the 11th, over five truckloads of relief supplies including bottled water, sacks of rice, flour and sugar, other dry goods, canned food, canned milk, box milk, juice, basic toiletries, baby supplies, batteries, flashlights, clothing, bedding, tools, lumber, nails, and other building materials, tarpaulins and plastic sheeting were stacked up on the Bequia dock awaiting the arrival of the M/V Glenconner, whose services had been donated by the Mustique Company.
The M/V Bequia Express, loaded with heavy equipment from Vincentian company Kelectric, accompanied the Glenconner to Grenada overnight, and by first light both vessels had been escorted safely into the Coast Guard Base at True Blue. Distribution by CDERA began immediately and by midday on the 12th the supplies were reaching those in need.
How to Help Now
Supplies are still needed! All coast guard vessels in CDERA member states are being mobilized to ship supplies to Grenada. Residents, companies or other interested parties in the Caribbean who wish to donate materials or cash should contact their local national disaster office and coordinate the response through them.
People in non-CDERA member states should contact their local Red Cross for information on how to contribute to the relief effort. Residents in the United States can coordinate all donations through the Grenada Embassy:
1701 New Hampshire Ave., NW,
Washington DC 20009
Tel: (202) 265-2561
Fax: (202) 265-2468
A list of supplies needed will be published on the CDERA website at www.cdera.org and pledges can be made online. Cash donations are also being accepted; CDERA has opened the Hurricane Ivan Assistance Fund account at all FirstCaribbean International Banks across the region.
CDERA continues to issue situation reports which may be viewed at www.cdera.org.
Help for Yachts
Relief efforts for Grenada's marine community were initiated by Trinidad's cruising and business community in Chaguaramas. A yacht-salvage operation commenced the week after the storm, using two workboats and a barge. Insurance surveyors and adjusters were on island within less than a week after the storm strike. Jesse James of Members Only Taxi Service agreed to be a facilitator in this relief effort, and with money donated by Trinidad boaters bought supplies which several private boats carried to Grenada. The Yacht Services Association of Trinidad & Tobago (YSATT) started a fund to provide supplies to stranded cruisers and to help the rebuilding effort at Grenada's marinas and boatyards, and quickly collected over US$12,000. For more information contact (868) 634-4938 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christmas is Coming!
The office of Nicholson Yachts of Newport, at 2 Coddington Wharf in Newport, Rhode Island, is accepting donations of used summer clothing for the people of Grenada. The clothing will be delivered to the Caribbean on charter yachts that will be heading to the Caribbean for the coming winter season. For more information call Nicholson at (401) 849-0344, or fax (401) 849-9018.
Copyright© 2004 Compass Publishing