As Hurricane Emily swept over the Windward Islands, it left a trail of destruction in Grenada and Tobago, two of the islands still recovering from last year's damage caused by Hurricane Ivan.
In Grenada, Emily, the fifth tropical storm of the Atlantic season ripped off roofs and caused severe flooding in several parishes including St Patrick, St Andrew, St David and the capital, St George's. At least 2,000 people had to be evacuated and 1,408 were accommodated in 30 shelters.
In Tobago, approximately 500 people had to be evacuated just before the heavy winds and rains lashed the island. Residents from parts of north and east Tobago were moved into shelters in L'Anse Fourmi, Golden Lane, Moriah and Belle Garden.
Ms Samantha Dickson, Health and Safety director at the Grenada Red Cross (GRC) said that, even though Emily was not as bad as Ivan, it still caused significant damage on the island. She said there were no reports of casualties so far but there has been substantial destruction to houses and other buildings. Red Cross volunteers and staff are working at both the Red Cross and government Emergency Operation Centres (EOC) to co-ordinate relief efforts.
"We have volunteers in every parish and we are receiving regular reports. People are also asking the Red Cross for assistance in different areas and we are trying our best to help everyone."
The storm destroyed the roof of the only hospital on Grenada's sister isle, Carriacou. In St George's, Emily also blew away the roof of the operating theatre and other wings at the main hospital as well as the roofs of two police stations in Grenville. "There is major flooding in some communities and several institutions like the home for the elderly have been flooded. We have been trying to evacuate those buildings," said Ms. Dickson.
In Tobago, there have been reports of mudslides and floods which have cut off several communities. Roofs were also blown off. In Trinidad, heavy rains caused flooding in all parts of the country and the Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross (TTRC) offices were flooded. Ms Lisa Lalsingh, TTRC Director general, said the Red Cross was conducting assessments in various parts of Trinidad and Tobago and mobilizing its volunteers to distribute relief items.
The International Federation's Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU) has mobilized delegates, ready to be deployed to the Caribbean countries and relief stocks have been prepared to be sent to the countries affected by Emily. The International Federation is expected to launch an emergency appeal for those countries affected by both Dennis and Emily.
Coming less than a week after Hurricane Dennis devastated the Caribbean, causing death and destruction in Cuba, Jamaica and Haiti, Emily remains a threat. Dennis, packing sustained winds of more than 100 km/hr killed at least 20 people in Cuba and in Haiti and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes. In Jamaica, thousands of people were evacuated as roads were flooded.
Hurricane Ivan ripped through the Caribbean in September last year with power and destruction unseen in the region in the last ten years, causing at least 100 deaths and wreaking havoc in the tiny islands of Grenada, Tobago, Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands before making its way to Cuba and Florida.
In some areas, flood waters washed away small communities. The economic impact on these countries is huge. Grenada suffered the most with 90 percent of houses destroyed leaving 60,000 homeless. The Grenada Red Cross headquarters was also destroyed.