|Ninety per cent of buildings have been destroyed in Grenada – but the worst damage is expected in Jamaica.|
NEW YORK, 9 September 2004 - UNICEF is preparing for a major emergency in Jamaica as Hurricane Ivan looks set to strike the Caribbean island tonight. Now a dangerous Category 5, it’s likely to be the worst storm for decades with winds reaching 160 mph.
“When Hurricane Gilbert hit Jamaica 15 years ago, it was only a Category 3, and we had 860,000 people displaced – that’s a third of the population,” says the head of UNICEF’s office in Jamaica, Bertrand Bainvel.
“Children are likely to have their lives particularly disrupted. They will have to evacuate their homes and the education system will be disrupted for a while. So we have to provide emergency systems to protect children and ease the emotional stress and trauma.”
UNICEF is prepared for the disaster but says extra supplies of plastic sheets and tarpaulins, water purification tablets, drugs, oral rehydration salts for children with diarrhoea, and other items are likely to be needed.
Meanwhile, emergency teams with specialists from UNICEF are arriving in Grenada where Hurricane Ivan has left a trail of devastation.
Ninety per cent of buildings were destroyed when 115 mph winds hit the Caribbean island on Tuesday. News of the crisis was slow to emerge because communications were severed, but at least four people have been confirmed dead and hundreds more injured.
The Government in Grenada has declared a national disaster and an urgent appeal is being made for food, water and tents. UNICEF is part of a Rapid Needs Assessment Team arriving today.