Steady rain fell on Grenada on Saturday, compounding the misery of thousands of islanders short on food, water and shelter after Hurricane Ivan roared through, devastating the former British colony.
“I have nobody to give me help,” Verna Alfred, 53, said while crouching under the foundation of her ruined home with several grandchildren and a neighbor.
The fierce winds that struck Tuesday pulled apart most roofs and left an acute crisis in Grenada, where more than half the 100,000 residents are homeless and in desperate need of shelter, water and basic supplies. At least 34 people were killed and more than 500 injured in the storm, and hospitals with short supplies were straining to deal with them.
In the past day Alfred said she’d eaten only some biscuits and cheese brought by generous friends. “It’s not enough food,” she said.
In a house near Alfred’s, only a few ceiling beams obstructed the view of the night sky in the living room. But the tiny wooden house still had a patch of corrugated zinc roof left — enough for five people to take refuge for the night.
Oil lamps, candles light the night
"Everybody’s sleeping on the floor,” said Lera Williams, 38, an unemployed woman staying in her fiance’s house with others after her home was flattened by Ivan. “No clothes to wear, everything is gone.”
Many areas are completely dark during the night. A few use oil lamps or candles. Glimmers of light flicker from fires lit on distant hills.
Early Saturday, some people were gathering water from floodwater ponds. One man cut open a coconut for its water. Some bathed with buckets of water taken from a broken pipe.
Some relief aid has trickled in, but most residents said they had yet to see it.
Following a frenzy of looting, troops from Trinidad and Antigua patrolled the streets of St. George’s, the capital, carrying assault rifles. Other Caribbean troops stopped cars at roadblocks and enforced a dusk-to-dawn curfew.
Prime Minister Keith Mitchell toured the devastation Friday and “lost his voice speaking to hundreds of individuals,” Health Minister Clarice Modesce-Curwen said.
Aid trickles in
One U.S. aid shipment arrived by plane on Friday, said Bob Fretz, consul general at the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, who was helping coordinate charter flights home for hundreds of Americans.
The American Red Cross disaster unit planned to send $70,000 worth of relief supplies, said Doug Allen, who heads the unit. The country must have aid within two days to avoid a critical situation, he said.
About 10 tons of donated supplies — from drinking water to tarpaulins and medicine — arrived Friday aboard a fishing boat from nearby Trinidad and 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 neighbors are,” he said while unloading supplies near a boatyard where scores of sailboats were blown over.
Death toll rises
The death toll in Grenada rose Saturday from 26 to 34 with the discovery of more bodies, Modesce-Curwen told the AP. The discoveries raised the death toll across the Caribbean to 50.
“It is mostly elderly people,” she said. “While some of them died from injuries sustained during the hurricane, many others died because of stress. They were frightened and traumatized to death.”
Hospital director Esther Henry-Fleary said 500 injured had been treated. But she said they were short of key supplies and nurses, many of whose homes were destroyed.
“I’m homeless,” said Rosalyn Mapson, 32, waiting in line to have a doctor treat a festering wound on her foot. She said she had taken her four children to stay in a room that remains intact in a damaged church. “We don’t have anywhere else to go.”
Wasteland of destruction
The hurricane knocked out electricity and telephone service as it left a wasteland of shattered homes and hillsides covered with snapped trees, splintered wood and twisted metal.
Government officials estimated some 90 percent of homes were damaged or destroyed. The main businesses, including tourism and spice crops such as nutmeg, also were hit hard. Many Grenadians say they have never seen such devastation.
“It’s going to be a long, long time before we recover,” said Louis Telesford, 27, whose home was a jumble of splintered wood. He was living with about 15 people under a neighbor’s concrete house, where they laid mattresses on the muddy ground.
“We need help,” Telesford said.