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Last Updated: Monday, 13 September, 2004, 14:30 GMT 15:30 UK
'Good response' to Jamaica appeal
By Damian Jones
BBC News Online

As Jamaica struggles to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan, BBC News Online spoke to organisations in the UK helping to co-ordinate relief efforts to assist the stricken island.

At least 14 people died and many homes were destroyed when 155mph winds and torrential rains struck Jamaica on Saturday.

Jamaican girl surveys the damage to her house
Jamaicans are assessing the true extent of the devastation

Sharon Saunders, Jamaica's Deputy High Commissioner in London, said an appeal for aid had already provoked a huge response among Britain's Jamaican community.

A clean-up operation is now under way and vital supplies are being sent to the area.

'Pockets of destruction'

She told BBC News Online: "We have had a very good response from the Jamaican community here in Britain. We are very pleased because a lot of people have been ringing to offer their help."

As well as cash donations, she said people and communities were offering their services to help out on the island along with useful supplies such as blankets and medical kits, to help those left destitute by the hurricane.

Despite the response, Ms Saunders said that she has urged people not to hand in material goods until the High Commission has a clear idea of what is needed.

We are having to rebuild again, knowing that another hurricane could hit in the near future
Sharon Saunders
Jamaican Deputy High Commissioner

She said: "We are currently waiting on a list of needs from Jamaica. Once we have that, we will be able to decide what assistance we can give and what assistance we will need from our international friends and family."

Despite the widespread damage, Ms Saunders said Jamaica had dealt with Ivan's onslaught better than had been hoped.

She added: "We had anticipated more of a catastrophe but there have been pockets of real destruction in some areas.

"I think the reason why we dealt so well with this hurricane was because we learned a lot from Hurricane Gilbert 12 years ago, particularly in terms of bolstering roofing and construction.

"The problem now is that we are having to rebuild again, knowing that another hurricane could hit in the near future."

Shipping out

Meanwhile, the UK Government and aid agencies are shipping out aid and volunteers.

Two humanitarian advisers from the Department for International Development (DFID) were flying out to Jamaica on Monday.

After being briefed by local and UN officials, they will report back on the most appropriate response.

They are also due to deliver items already requested by Jamaican authorities, such as plastic sheeting, water supplies and medical assistance.

The DFID said that following the assessments, funds would be made available "according to need".

It will also liaise with other donors to make sure funds are used "in the most effective way" to bring relief and save lives.

We will be targeting and assessing the damage
Marilise Turnbull
Oxfam aid workers are due to arrive on the island on Tuesday to assess the damage.

Caribbean humanitarian co-ordinator Marilise Turnbull said: "There is a large clean-up operation going on at the moment and we are sending workers out there with water testing kits.

"Surprisingly Jamaica wasn't as badly hit as we anticipated, especially Kingston which seemed to miss the eye of the storm.

"But we will be targeting and assessing the damage caused to rural areas because they seemed to come off worse."


Two Royal Navy vessels, HMS Richmond and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary tanker Wave Ruler have also been sent to the island.

The 300 personnel on board include medical staff and technicians.

Flooding continues to be the main problem in Jamaica.

Homes and roads were swept away in flooding caused by heavy rain and huge waves up to 23ft (seven metres) high.

Of the half-million people in the exposed eastern shores who had been urged to move into shelters, many ignored the advice fearing their homes might be looted.

The BBC's Ian Pannell
"The damage in some parts has been totally devastating"


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