Caribbean Hurricane Lenny Alert

ALERT
Caribbean: Hurricane Lenny
November 18 1999
The Situation

Lenny, a category-four hurricane, has picked up strength in the Eastern Caribbean, with winds reaching 240 km per hour. Hurricane force winds extend outwards up to 110 Km from its centre and tropical storm force winds extend outward up to 335 Km. The north-eastern Caribbean was probably severely affected last night, but telecommunications with many of the islands have been cut.

At 7:00 p.m. Caribbean time, the centre of the hurricane was located 115 km west-southwest of St. Martin. In addition to the extremely strong winds around its centre, Hurricane Lenny is producing surge flooding of 5 to 8 feet above normal tides, accompanied by large and dangerous waves. Locally heavy rainfall and intense winds are occurring in mountainous areas with the possibility of life-threatening flash floods and mud slides.

At 3 a.m. today local time, when the eye of the hurricane was located about 85 km. west-south-west of St Martin, a hurricane warning remained in effect for Antigua & Barbuda, St Kitts & Nevis, St Martin, Culebra, Vieques, the U.S. and British Virgin Islands, St Barthélemy, Anguilla, Saba, St Eustachius, Monserrat and other north-east-Caribbean islands. Tropical storm warnings remained in effect east of the Ponce-Manati line, including for San Juan de Puerto Rico. Lenny drifted eastward during the night passing over St. Kitts, St. Martin and Anguila. If it continues on the general north-east track today it will spread its core of extremely dangerous weather across the warning area

Red Cross/Red Crescent Action

St. Kitts and Nevis Red Cross officials have met with local volunteers and relief teams to review the response plans. Early Wednesday morning, the National Society reported strong rainfall, lightning and thunder storms across the island. Red Cross volunteers are on standby in the National Society HQ preparing relief supplies for possible relief activities later.

The Antigua and Barbuda Red Cross has secured additional relief supplies and relief teams are on standby. On wednesday afternoon the National Society reported that businesses and schools were closed. Heavy rain and rough seas were beating the south western coastline. Some roads have been washed away. According to the National Disaster Plan, the National Society is responsible for the feeding of shelter residents during the first 72 hours after a disaster's impact. The National Society is also ready to give support and assistance with supplies and delegates to neighbouring sister National Societies.

Alert

The St. Lucia Red Cross Society reported Wednesday afternoon that Lenny was causing high seas and waves in the western part of the island. The town of Soufriere and the village of Chouiseul were the worst affected, with a number of houses totally destroyed. Many markets, businesses and gas stations in Soufriere were flooded. People have been evacuated from these two locations.

The Grenada Red Cross reported Wednesday afternoon that heavy seas and storm surges struck the western coast of Grenada and Carriacou. In Carriacou, there has been serious damage to businesses and homes and streets of the capital, Hillsborough, are under water. On the mainland, the capital suffered serious damage.

All offices on the Carenage were flooded and evacuated, while over a dozen people were severely injured when one of several buildings collapsed on one of the main streets of the capital. Further north, on the western coast in St. John's, a shelter was opened to house people evacuated had to from their homes because of the severe flooding. Several boats and coastal buildings were destroyed. No damage has been reported on the island of Petit Martinique or in rural areas on the mainland.

The Dominica Red Cross reported, also Wednesday afternoon, that Lenny caused significant problems along the western coastline and had washed three houses out to sea at Loubiere in the Southwest. Three hotels along the south road reported significant damage to their buildings. The sea waves have badly damaged roads along the western coastline. The Bayfront boulevard is under a foot of water. There are rock falls and high pounding waves along the Canefield and Pointe Michel cliffs to the north and south of the capital. Some schools closed early midday Wednesday to facilitate transportation to towns and villages while coastal roads were still passable. Some shelters were opened to accommodate residents from low-lying west coast villages.

The airport is closed .

The Caribbean Regional Delegation in Santo Domingo is closely monitoring the development of Hurricane Lenny and Disaster Preparedness teams are on standby to give assistance if necessary. A Regional Disaster Preparedness delegate is flying to Miami this morning to buy radio equipment for the relief operation in St. Kitts and Nevis. The American Red Cross reports that support teams and delegates are on stand-by for rapid deployment with telcom equipment and relief supplies.

Needs

In conjunction with national authorities, needs assessments are being conducted by the Caribbean Red Cross National Societies and local branches in areas affected by Hurricane Lenny. Needs will be reported as soon as telecommunications can be re-established. However, in the light of the hurricane's strength and the Red Cross experience during the last strong hurricanes season in the Caribbean (Georges) and Central America (Mitch), needs will most probably include plastic sheeting, purification tablets, water, medicines, clothing and emergency food.

Peter Rees-Gildea
Director
Operations Funding and Reporting Department

Santiago Gil
Director
The Americas Department

This and other reports on Federation operations are available on the Federation's website: http://www.ifrc.org

Alert