recall vividly the day Hurricane Ivan came, first stirring up the seas
and then blowing their houses away, one after another.
“It wasn’t a nice sight,” says Phillip,
describing how the sea came rushing up to their houses hours before the
hurricane itself had even hit.
“Look how it calm now and it was all over the trees,”
she marvels, relating that the sea swept past their houses on the beach,
across to the other side of the road.
Phillip fled from her home as the hurricane blew off her
roof and sent the sea surging into her house.
“Downstairs the sea took everything it could take,”
says Phillip, her blonde dreadlocks bobbing as she shook her head in disbelief.
“I try to run for safety and I still lost,”
says Phillip mournfully, pulling on the cloth she has wrapped around her.
Richardson, who lost her husband last year, lost the home
she and her three children lived in when Hurricane Ivan visited.
She was in the nearby town of Grenville, the main town
in the parish of St Andrews buying stock and when she returned home, the
sea was already in an uproar.
“I saw a wave as tall as that come in my house,”
she says, indicating with her arm and raising it near to her shoulder.
They fled to the house of a relative, but the roof came
off there as well.
“We were inside the house and just bawling, bawling,
bawling,” remembers Richardson of the terrible day.
As night fell, they made for safety at another house nearby.
“I came up in the night with the bag on my back
in the rain so,” says Richardson, demonstrating how she struggled
against the whipping winds of Ivan to make it to the crowded safe-house.
“Thirty of us were in that house that night. That
was the worse I ever experience, papa! Woooiiee! I didn’t sleep
for two days afterwards,” says Richardson, clutching her stomach.
the passage of Ivan villagers have been trying to come to grips with the
ruination the hurricane inflicted on them. The sounds of hammering and
sawing filled the air as villagers started the work of rebuilding.
Many are living in temporary shacks they have cobbled together from the
remains of the hurricane – make-shift residences of plyboard and
Peering out of one of these shacks by the sea is Julie
Sanderson. She is cooking a small meal in a borrowed pot with food she
managed to scrounge-up from foreign army officers who had passed through
She, her husband Errol and their seven children lost everything
to the rage of Hurricane Ivan.
“I didn’t want the hurricane to come because
I know I have a lot to lose,” says Errol, still speaking in the
present tense of the comfortable life he once had.
Picking through what is left of the four-bedroom house
he built only two years ago, the fisherman of 31 years lists what he and
his large family have lost: Televisions, two VCRs, a stereo set, fridge
and washing machine – about EC$45 000.
His boat, worth $11 000, was damaged by the hurricane
and he is trying urgently to get it repaired so that he can again begin
to make a living for his family.
“I does just cry you know,” comments Julie
sadly, telling how she and her family now split their time between a shelter
and their tiny shacks.
“They don’t like that, but they still have
to cope with it. Sometimes all of us sleep here,” she says.
Food is hard to come by – like many other Grenadians,
she emphasises that “nobody” has come as yet to their aid.
Their water source is from the standpipe which Julie suspects is contaminated
as it has made she and her children repeatedly sick.
Her greatest concern is for her children who she says
have been traumatised by recent events.
“They took it badly! Because it take their clothes
– people have to give them some clothing,” she says.
Four of her children are of school age. Briefly, her eyes
light up when she notes proudly that her daughter is very bright, and
had aspirations of being a doctor.
Now all her books, as well as those of her siblings are
destroyed and her daughter’s mood is bleak every day.
“She just sit down and cry and cry. She’s
fed-up,” says Julie worriedly.
Despite the devastation of Ivan, Julie notes they will
probably have to rebuild in the same spot when they eventually can.
“We want to build back, but we have no money, nothing.
We don’t have no land or money to buy land. We still have to build
Not so for Phillip and Richardson who have vowed that
they will never again live so close to the sea.
“I’m going to rebuild in a different spot.
I don’t trust the sea,” says Richardson.
“Look the sea all make room now to do even worse.
Leave the sea alone,” agrees Phillip.
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