UNICEF team visits Hurrican ravaged Turks and Caicos Island
GRAND TURK, September 12, 2008 – UNICEF is among international organizations on the ground in Turks and Caicos Islands conducting assessments and helping the island chain recover from the devastation left in the wake of powerful Hurricane Ike last weekend.
Last Sunday the hurricane, packing winds in excess of 140 miles per hour, bore down on the low-lying islands damaging over 80 per cent of homes, schools and other public buildings on the Grand Turk and South Caicos Islands, two of the islands in the northern Caribbean chain.
The category four hurricane, which followed closely on the heels of the slow-moving Tropical Storm Hanna which caused widespread flooding when it crawled past the island chain less than a week earlier, also knocked out electricity and left residents on the two worst affected islands without running water. A state of emergency remained in effect in Grand Turk.
Schools in Grand Turk and South Caicos remained closed Friday as most of the buildings housing classrooms were extensively damaged or destroyed. The only public play area used by children in Grand Turk was also destroyed, robbing the now out of school children of a recreational area.
The Department of National Disaster Management Thursday met with officials of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) to compile a list of the country’s immediate needs and officials said this list will be shared with donors as soon as it has been reviewed.
UNICEF Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Tom Olsen, said his office, which was the first UN agency to conduct a post impact tour of Grand Turk, was ready to respond to the immediate needs of the children and families in the impacted area.
“We sent in a team as soon as it was possible to secure flights into the worst affected areas and once we can determine the needs UNICEF will respond,” he said, noting that the organization’s immediate priority was seeing children returned to school and safe conditions as soon as possible.
Government officials, including Premier Michael Mesick, estimate that it will take at least two months before people in the worst affected areas are able to begin picking up the pieces and retuning to normal.
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