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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 September, 2004, 18:52 GMT 19:52 UK
Hurricane Ivan: Eyewitness accounts
BBC News Online has received hundreds of accounts from eyewitnesses to Hurricane Ivan and their relatives.

Below are a selection of them by country.


As the wind blew on my roof it sounded like I was in a washing machine. The next thing I remember, I was lying on the floor with the roof on me. I am moving back to the UK!
James Roberts, Grenada

In Grenada food is desperately short, and serious health problems are imminent due to lack of sanitation and clean water. Distribution of relief is hampered by lack of vehicles, and roads are still impassable. Grenada needs all the help it can get.
Nicola Redway, St Vincent and the Grenadines

I have just been evacuated from St Georges University Vet School Grenada. The island is in utter devastation, with no food, clean water, power etc. The majority of the islanders have lost their whole lives. Homes have been destroyed and many people are looting... purely because there is no other way. This island desperately needs aid too. I was disappointed by the lack of coverage Grenada received on the BBC in England. Are the inhabitants of Grenada less worthy than Jamaicans, Cubans etc? Our island was hit first and was less prepared, please don't forget us.
Fiona Dobbie, Southwell, Portland, England

I have just heard from my parents for the first time. They are staying with friends as their home of 17 years has been "fairly trashed" - no kitchen or bedrooms or roof. What remains is a soggy mess. The sea came about 10 metres up from the beach at the bottom of the garden. They have food and water for today only. They can see an aid ship off the coast but believe it is not coming ashore due to the looting. The people on Westerhall Point have organised a 24 hour security roster amongst themselves. They are dirty, hungry, tired, very thirsty but alive.
Jo Frater & the Ross family, Cape Town, South Africa

We have just got in from arriving safely back into the UK from Grenada. We were staying at La Source when we were hit by Ivan. Everyone was in their rooms and it was quite exciting at first especially as we weren't warned at the severity of it! Everyone is ok, the staff were fantastic. LIAT gave us mercy flights into Barbados and BA put on a relief flight to get us home which was so nice of them or we would have been stuck until next week. The country is in desperate need of aid now, they are such lovely people, I pray that they will get it. It was a totally amazing /strange/heartbreaking holiday, just glad we survived, it was like being on one of those TV storm programmes! I hope you all get in touch with your friends soon, there are only a few phones that are working. Good luck.
Louise Carpenter & Chris Hanks, Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, UK

I heard about hurricanes but never in my entire 34 years have I ever experienced something like this. In the area where I live on the Carenage, as far as my eye can see, every building lost their roof including mine. It all happened so quickly that all one could do was to stay where they were, covering themselves. When my roof disappeared, I went underneath a step in the basement together with my five-year-old daughter, sheltering from the rain underneath a piece of thick canvas. We stayed there for about 2.5 hours as the wind howled and roof tops came tumbling down the hill and crashing into our house. We managed to get out to safety at the Cable & Wireless building, my workplace, where I am now safe.
Ernest George, St George's, Grenada

We were evacuated from Grenada on Sunday via Tobago - I have never been so scared in my life as we were in Grenada on Tuesday 7th when Ivan hit Grenada. Words cannot describe how sad it was to see the destruction and desperation of the people.
Lidia Harding, Netherlands

I and 10 other medical students from the UK just managed to escape from Grenada four days after Hurricane Ivan devastated the island. We had little food, no water, no shelter or safety and all this with absolutely no help from the British government. As somebody who has survived a crisis like this I now regard the British government's relief effort with contempt and anger. How could they abandon their citizens when the US were evacuating US citizens on a daily basis? I got off the island off my own back - many others have not.
Jonathan Bath, London, UK

The university has been maimed and the veterinary school destroyed, but this was minor damage compared to what Grenadian citizens have left. As an American student going to school overseas I found the devastation unbelievable, my heart goes out to the people of Grenada. As a student, I am very disappointed in the way SGU handled the evacuation of its students. 90% of the faculty abandoned the students to take care of their own needs, there was no evacuation or disaster plan to speak of, and the student government arranged for their peers and colleagues to evacuate the island. No American troops have come to help, that is very discouraging to my patriotism. Thank God for the Royal British Navy, the first to come help. Next came Trinidad, and without them the looting would have elevated. I lost everything, but I have my life and will do what I can to remotely assist Grenada during this time of chaos.
Heather Fultz, St George's University, Grenada


I admit it was extremely terrifying especially after seeing news reports about the size of the hurricane compared to Barbados. Throughout the day the winds increased, still I was able to venture down to the beach to see what was happening. I know we were told to stay indoors, however many tourist and local people were at the beach sightseeing. I guess we were curious and thankful the island was spared.
Sonja Pollard, Ontario, Canada (on holiday in Barbados)

As a resident of Barbados I can say we got off extremely lucky after watching the damage Ivan did to us along our south coast and to several properties and comparing it to Grenada my heart and sympathies go out to them, there is not a day I don't go by without thinking about the losses in Grenada.
Chris, Bridgetown, Barbados

I was in Barbados when Ivan struck, the hotel was slightly damaged, but the south coast had majority of the damage. Whilst I was waiting in the queue to get some food, the chef assured my family, by saying " this is a God blessed island and God will protect us" he said this with great confidence, this was said on Monday and five hours later we were told that Ivan had taken a different path, and this was now a tropical storm. Barbados truly is a God blessed island.
Manjit, Woking, Surrey

In breathing a sigh of relief, we in Barbados should also say a prayer for our neighbours in Grenada. Ivan has set them back nearly 50 years. The scope of the destruction cannot truly be understood by Barbadians who have not had a direct hit for almost 50 years. I pray we never know.
Anthony Blackman, Bridgetown, Barbados


Our honeymoon in Jamaica was interrupted by Hurricane Ivan. We had been staying at Sandals, Montego Bay. Although many guests were able to leave the island, several, mostly British, were not able to secure flights, ourselves included. Contrary to Sean Tipton's comments, we did not elect to stay. The hotel management was exemplary - they relocated us to a secure location. Hurricane Ivan passed by Jamaica on Friday night, and all the guests (about 300), hotel staff and children from a nearby orphanage slept in the hotel's ballroom. Thankfully we were all safe. Our deepest gratitude goes out to those Jamaicans who ensured our safety and comfort, even as that of their families was at risk.
David Telford, London, UK

The tragedy of Hurricane Ivan will live in my memory for ever. The tremendous damage to lives and property mixed was set off by outstanding examples of human kindness and caring.
Arthur Hall, Kingston

I spoke to my sister on Saturday morning, at about 11 am Jamaica time. She was in St Andrew, which is in the northern part of Kingston. They had a few leaks and lost some shingles, but overall they came through it okay. Her house is on a hill and she can see most of the Havendale area of Kingston/St Andrew. She said that the damage to that area looked minimal. One or two roofs gone and lots of trees down. We have also heard from other people in other parts of Kingston, and they have similar reports. We thank God for veering the eye away at the last minute. It could have been a lot worse.
Sharon, Toronto, Canada

The sky has acquired a fluorescent green colour with sudden red and blue lighting flashes that fall from the sky. Visibility is almost none and there's water falling from all directions. From the sky, sideways, and even from underground as the sewers are full. It seems as if there were water fountains everywhere.
RFO, Kingston, Jamaica

We can see massive waves on the beach below us, it not safe to stand up anywhere outside now. There are no mobile phone signals, although internet access is ok. From websites it now looks like Ivan is set to miss us, and skirt round the south coast of the island, which means it might not get much worse. The wind noise is unbelievable, but at least there is no rain yet.
Andy, Negril, Jamaica

It was one scary night, I have been in earthquakes in Indonesia, typhoons in HK, snow blizzards in Russia but this was the worst. I was genuinely scared. The wind was terrible and the rain incredible. Luckily we only had water enter the house through the leaky windows. But the compound took a real beating - trees down, my garden fence down, cars damaged but no one injured. Now we just need the power to be restored and we can get back to clearing up.
John McCash, Kingston, Jamaica

Ivan has just left us we are a bit relieved that it did not do as much damage as we had anticipated in Kingston and St Andrew. However we are still concerned about the western part of Jamaica where the hurricane was much more devastating. We have not heard from Alvest Smalling (my dad) since last night and we are still concerned about his safety. Overall Kingston seems to be safe but we are waiting to hear from western Jamaica.
Bollo, Nyamie & Miss T, Kingston, Jamaica

My parents, other family members and many friends suffered greatly as Ivan tore through Jamaica Friday night into Saturday morning. My parents in Mandeville sounded desperate and frightened as they lost a portion of their roof and had to cope with water pouring into the house in the middle of the night. I felt like I was going through it with them back here in Florida, because the sounds of their voice on the phone haunted me all night and into the early hours of the morning. People in the middle and western regions of the island were the hardest hit and hours after it was calming down in Kingston, Mandeville and St Elizabeth was being ravaged by the very worst winds of the hurricane. What worries me the most is the aftermath of the storm, because Jamaica does not have the infrastructure to bounce back after such a devastating storm.
Angie Kemp-Levy, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

We just received a telephone call from our daughter in Jamaica. She is living with the Parchment family in a little town between Treasure Beach and Great Bay. There is tremendous devastation. The roof came off the house, the outside shower and kitchen were destroyed and the septic has backfilled into the house. There is no water or electricity and no outside aid as yet but everyone in the family is thankful to be alive.
Irene MacIntyre, British Columbia, Canada

Most of my family lives in eastern Kingston. At about 11pm one of my cousins called to stay, the roof of his house was about to go, and he was trying to get to the nearest shelter, but there was too much debris flying around. Today we are still trying contact relatives, to hear if everyone is okay.
Andrea, NY, USA


Hurricane Ivan as captured by News Online user Andy Murrant
Hurricane Ivan's strength devastated Grand Cayman
After spending four nights in Grand Cayman pre and post hurricane Ivan the government still seems to be playing down the devastation and hardships that are really occurring on Grand Cayman. As the General Manager of little Cayman Beach Resort I had to make the unfortunate announcement to my guests that we had to evacuate, fortunately they all managed to leave the Cayman Islands. I and 20 staff members spent four nights at the Marriot Courtyard hotel overlooking the beautiful West Bay beach front - but after the storm a different landscape appeared.

We were all fortunate enough to return to Little Cayman three days later. My heart goes out to all those left in Grand Cayman as the destruction is terrifying. There is no water system operational and very few aid stations that refugees have to walk to in flooded areas to get supplies. Power is not available anywhere on the island and the police have been armed and told to shoot looters out after the 6pm curfew. The world needs to know that the Caymans needs its help as the once rich island is now very desperate.
Andy Murrant, Little Cayman

My entire life resides in Cayman, including my home, family and friends, which makes me very concerned about the safety of everyone in Cayman. I was informed today by a friend living in Cayman that he was swimming inside of his home after a huge wave caused four feet of water to flood the ground floor during the peak of the hurricane."It must have been a tidal wave", he said.

I have spoken to my father, who has informed me of the humanitarian efforts to fly in hurricane relief materials including water, food and generators to accommodate for the island's destruction - which is a reality! Cable and Wireless' building is being used as a hurricane shelter in George Town. There is looting going on. People are kicking in the windows of already damaged houses and companies and stealing, causing police retaliation in the form of gun shots - yes the Royal Cayman Island Police are armed, which is not the norm in any way. British sailors have arrived on Cayman, however, one of the two ships contains only supplies, and the sailors onshore are not armed or assisting effectively with law and order efforts.

Contact with Cayman has been minimal and I am afraid that without intense pressure on the appropriate authorities, Cayman will not be able to regroup and fully recover from the devastation of hurricane Ivan without the help of the international community. This is a very desperate time for my country, and everyone that is aware of the situation would love to help spread the word that Cayman needs help after Hurricane Ivan.
Michael Ebanks, Jacksonville, Florida, USA

I have just got off Grand Cayman, it is total devastation, whole apartments have been washed away, I have friends that have nothing but the clothing they are wearing. We all thought we were going to die. The Island needs help desperately to maintain security, sanitation and provide food and water.
Stephen, Cayman Islands

I have been trying for days to get through to my brother in GT and finally succeeded this morning. Spoke with him for approx 1/2 hour. Situation is grim. He has told me that the Church St South is indeed gone, and many buildings have collapsed. He can't possibly fathom the power being restored in days, and says the island is obviously in real trouble. The biggest concern right now is the security of the people. They are staying with friends and sleep with machetes for their own safety. There is looting going on in the middle of the day, not to mention at night. Curfew from 6pm to 6am seems to be having little effect, because there is nobody to enforce it.

He has spoken to a friend of his who is a policeman on the island, and was told that the police need help immediately. There is no way the current force can control the present situation. His friend told him that the looters are armed and very dangerous, and have evened stormed a shelter and robbed people of their belongings in broad daylight. He was also informed that there was a riot at the prison last night, but was not sure if any prisoners escaped. He is sure that the status of no fatalities will change, because at this time there is nobody to perform search and rescue operations in fallen buildings because the police force is stretched to the limit and just patrolling the streets.
Keith, Grand Cayman

It is very sad to see the Island that I love so much in such a condition. Totally smashed! As I am in the tourism sector it will be a while before we recover. I lament the lack of leadership shown by our leaders in this crisis. Grenadians need to be told to be calm and that help is on its way. Our leaders need to speak to us. They need to take a vehicle and a PA system, tour the Island and talk to the ordinary people. They need to allow the disaster relief people to do their jobs and stop playing politics with relief. There is still hardly any communication from authorities to the people and that is most frightening to me. Our people will loose hope if this continues. This is the first time since after the storm I was able to come onto the internet and I was encouraged by the articles and the promises of help for my lovely country. Thanks to the BBC and everyone else who is making our plight known. God bless!
Alpha Stafford, St George's, Grenada

The Cayman Islands are under water, no connection and no houses or buildings have escaped according to the brief message received through mobile from my family there. It is estimated that a large number of lives have been lost. The big government buildings including the police station have collapsed.
Dr Datta, Chislehurst, Kent

Locking the door on leaving home, I never expected to ever see the place again. It felt very strange. The forecast is for the waves to be over 25ft high, as high as the building, which is right on the beach. Retreat was to George Town and an office building with a generator, built to withstand hurricanes. The Governor just declared a state of emergency and there are eight souls here, from the UK, USA and Germany, not knowing what to expect tonight but sure everything will be transformed by Monday. The really hard part will be dealing with the ferocity of the eye at about 7am Sunday. On Monday we will know the full extent of the loss. The last time Cayman had such a storm was the storm of 1932 which devastated the place. It might just happen again in the next 24 hours. I will try to send another report tomorrow night if there is power and a phone line.
Alistair Stones, Prospect Point, Grand Cayman

My friends and I have evacuated our home to run for our lives to a storm shelter, leaving our beloved dogs Benson, Hedges and Sam locked in the upstairs lavatory, with plentiful food and water. We are all hopeful that everyone stays safe and sound all over the Islands. Please do not go outside to take pictures.
Eugene Nolan, Grand Cayman

My parents, living in Lower Valley, (just east of Savannah), reported (1pm) the tin roofs of two neighbouring houses being taken off by the extensive winds, leaving only the rafters exposed and insides vulnerable to the pouring rain. Mostly all of the trees in the area have been uprooted and blown away, including breadfruit, palm and coconut trees. It is possible that the international cable, which allows for international phone calls in and out of the country may have been damaged, causing congestion in telecommunications including, text and voice connections. Phone lines are down for sure in Lower Valley and most likely island wide, with cellular signals being hard to maintain due to the weather conditions of the atmosphere.
Mike, Grand Cayman

Inside, all doors and windows boarded up, whiskey, gin & vodka in good supply, if the power goes off ice may be a problem. Seriously though the rain and winds have just picked up (15:30hrs) so we will see what happens, looks like it will be much closer than previously predicted. Will update later as communications permit, we wish everybody on all three islands the best of luck. God Bless.
Sam & Alun, West Bay, Grand Cayman

I have heard from family members in Georgetown, in the Cayman Islands, that the airport tower is destroyed and the fire-station is blown away. The sea surge has gone from one side to the other in parts. Shelter roofs have been blown off and there are masses of serious damage. The people I speak to say they know that HMS has three war ships heading to Jamaica but they want to be told if these are going to be there and if so when can they expect help to arrive.
Jackie Simmons, Miami, Florida

My sister lives in Grand Cayman, and thankfully we have made contact with her. The island is decimated, people are trapped in their houses, people are missing, this is a British island, why no news of the devastation? Georgetown is in a terrible state and the island is cut in two.
Marion Baker, Tetbury, Glos, UK

I have friends living on Grand Cayman. I received a telephone call yesterday evening from her parents to say that that both her and husband are OK but that there is total devastation. We have been very disappointed in the coverage, all the news seemed to centre on both Jamaica and Cuba whilst Cayman received the full brunt of Hurricane Ivan - very disappointing considering it is British and has a huge ex-pat community.
Sarah, Cornwall, England


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