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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 September, 2004, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
UK Jamaicans' fears for home
People boarding up in Kingston, Jamaica
People are boarding up homes and shops in Kingston, Jamaica
Thousands of people of Jamaican descent throughout the UK are anxiously awaiting news about loved ones affected by Hurricane Ivan.

BBC News Online spoke to concerned relatives.

In north London, members of the Jamaican community are receiving news of the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan and deciding how best to help.

Much of the congregation at New Testament Church of God, in Willesden, will meet early next week to discuss setting up a relief fund for people affected by the hurricane, according to a church spokesman.

He said: "We have a large Caribbean community who attend the church who have relatives who have been affected.

"We are waiting to see the extent of what the hurricane does."

Al Hamilton, of ex-pat support group Concerned Jamaicans, said the storm seemed to be heading west, despite the original forecast that it would hit the eastern side of the island.

Yvonne Chin
My friends are saying to me, 'Pray for us'
Yvonne Chin

He told BBC News Jamaican communities in the US and Canada would also contribute to the relief effort.

Meanwhile concerned relatives are making attempts to contact those who have been hit by the storm.

Jennifer Rodney, 48, from Harrow Weald, north London, spoke to her mother on Saturday morning.

Myrtle Rodney, who is 75, lives in Spanish Town, St Catherine, in the south east of Jamaica.

Her daughter said: "It was about three in the morning when I called.

"My mother couldn't sleep because she was quite frightened and the noise was very loud.

"Trees have been blown down and she can hear things going past as they are ripped up - her house is still intact because it's quite sturdy."

Mrs Rodney added her mother had prepared for the storm by stocking up on food.

Yvonne Chin, who works at BBC Radio Nottingham, said: "I just went out to get a phone card to call my grandmother.

"I'm really worried about her, everybody I've spoken to back home is taking this one really seriously.

Ms Chin, 32, moved to the UK last year to do an MA in TV Journalism at Nottingham Trent University.

Andrew Clunis
People are treating it with the respect it deserves, certainly they remember the destruction of's unavoidable
Andrew Clunis

Her 77-year-old grandmother and 10-year-old brother are at the family home in Kintyre, a suburb of the Jamaican capital, Kingston.

But Ms Chin added her grandmother was in good spirits.

"She says she's fine, she got through the last two or three with no problem", she said.

"She's praying as we all do in Jamaica. That's what my friends are saying to me, 'Pray for us'."

Andrew Clunis, news editor at The Voice, a newspaper aimed at Britain's black community, is trying to remain calm.

He said: "People are treating it with the respect it deserves, certainly they remember the destruction of Gilbert, it's unavoidable.

"They're using the experience of Gilbert to get through this one."

Meanwhile Claire Stewart, 22, an editorial assistant, who lives in Fulham, London, is desperately worried about her "huge" family who are spread all over the island.

"It's the worst time to be away from family and friends, you want to be back home."

Ms Stewart, whose parents live in the parish of St Andrew's just outside Kingston, says they were nailing plywood to the windows of their house, filling up the petrol tanks in their car and cutting down trees which could fall on their house.

Her cousin, who lives on the island's west coast in Negril, has already been evacuated.

The BBC's Ian Pannell
"Those who can have left the island and the airport is now closed"


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