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Grenada (Hurricane Ivan) Response (2004)

Hurricane Ivan made its way through the Caribbean leaving behind a path of destruction. Its impact was felt in Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Barbados, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and Cuba. The small island nation of Grenada was perhaps the hardest hit. When Ivan passed though Grenada on Tuesday, September 7, the National Hurricane Center reported that winds were at 120 mph. The hurricane caused structural damage to most buildings in the Grenadian capital of St. George's, including the emergency operations center of the National Emergency Relief Organization, the Prime Minister's residence, several schools, the main hospital, and the prison. With a total population of 110,000, the vast majority of Grenadians (85,000 to 90,000 people) were significantly affected by the storm. The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States reports that Hurricane Ivan caused approximately $667 million in direct damage to Grenada and approximately $91 million in indirect damage. The most affected sectors include tourism, housing, and agriculture.

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The US Agency for International Development's Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA) immediately responded to the event in Grenada and dispatched a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to coordinate its assistance. The Forest Service's Disaster Assistance Support Program (DASP), which works closely with USAID/OFDA, deployed two Program Specialists (Christine Leonardo and Scott Hocklander) to Grenada as part of the DART. While in Grenada, the Program Specialists monitored the distribution of relief supplies donated by USAID, coordinated with governmental and non-governmental organizations, and performed damage assessments in affected areas.

One of the Program Specialists evaluated the damage to the island's natural resources including wildlife, watersheds, and national reserves. Scott Hocklander, the Program Specialist from the BLM, was accompanied by Department of Forestry staff from Grenada during an assessment of several forested areas on the island including the Annandale watershed and the Grand Etang Forest Reserve and National Park. The damage to the watershed and reserve was catastrophic with over 90 percent of trees destroyed during the storm. The loss of canopy cover and the destruction of trees, shrubs, etc has already lead to severe erosion on the steeper slopes and to abnormally dry fuel conditions. The results of the assessment were shared with both the Chief Inspector of the Grenadian Fire Service and the Chief Forester of the Department of Forestry. Both officials agreed the damage to the island's resources and the threat of further damage through erosion, fire, and continued disruption to the ecosystem was unprecedented. Forestry officials noted that efforts to regain access to many of the island's watersheds in order to clear debris and dead and down fuels from these areas have been hampered by a lack of equipment and resources, especially chainsaws. Among the supplies and equipment donated by USAID were 12 chainsaws to assist with debris removal throughout the country.

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