[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 27 September, 2004, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
Counting the cost of Hurricane Ivan
The remains of Velma Greenidge's house
The remains of Velma Greenidge's house in Grenada

Hurricane Ivan has left a trail of destroyed homes and wrecked lives across the Caribbean and parts of the United States.

Julia Botfield visited the island of Grenada for BBC Breakfast TV to see how the inhabitants were confronting the destruction wrought by the most powerful hurricane to hit the region this season.

I gawped in utter disbelief as we drove past shattered houses. To an untrained eye like mine it looked as though the hurricane had only just ended.

There was carnage everywhere and Grenada looked like a war zone. "What do you think?" asked Bentley, our driver.

"Unbelievable," said Paul, my cameraman, and it was - it was unbelievable, shocking, and at times surreal.

'Apocalyptic'

We tried to find words to capture what we saw - devastating, apocalyptic, but I'm honestly not sure any one word could ever do it justice.

And just when I thought we had seen the worst, another grotesque scene loomed into vision.

Shipping containers blown on top of cars, churches torn open, and Grenada's lush, vibrant forests stripped of leaves, stripped of bark, leaving so many bare, shattered, branches pointing accusingly at the sky.

But the worst damage is to the island's housing stock - 90% of homes were damaged and many thousands of people have nowhere to live.

We visited the Greenidge family who lost everything.

As the hurricane raged, the children and their father clambered out of their house, choosing to take their chances in the open air rather than die as their home collapsed around them.

Benedick Greenidge snatched his five-year-old to his chest, and pulled his nine-year-old onto his back before stepping out into the howling storm.

They took shelter under a neighbour's porch. It was a terrible night, but they survived.

Supplies

And now, two weeks on, they wait for food supplies and fresh water, and frankly it is shocking that they have not received any yet. Aid is arriving by boat and aeroplane, but it is not being distributed properly.

Government ministers are already talking about bringing tourists back to the island, finding new ways to market their "product", and replacing the decimated nutmeg industry.

But until everyone has safe drinking water and at least a tarpaulin over their heads, it is hard to believe they have their priorities right.

On a community level, the mutual support and care is humbling. Certainly we heard stories of looting in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane, but by the time we arrived on the island people were pulling together.

Villagers are working assiduously on one property at a time, re-roofing their neighbours' houses before attempting to tackle their own.

Shattered

It is hard to imagine how the schools and churches will fare - many look way beyond the point of repair.

In the capital St George's, the Catholic cathedral is a brutalised shell and a crucified Jesus gazes down upon the shattered remains of the roof, the pews and the organ.

Wherever you go around the island, people find little else to talk about - the sense of shock is still pervasive.

Many Grenadians believed they were safe, that their island was outside the hurricane belt, that it would not happen to them.

Ivan was a brutal reminder of the unpredictability of nature.

PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific