2005 Hurricane Season Ramps Up Early


Hurricane Emily was an unpredictable storm from the beginning. It struck Grenada as a category 1 hurricane on July 13 causing damage to many of the same health facilities that were battered by last year’s Hurricane Ivan. Other Caribbean countries were spared devastation by Emily, which passed over the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula as a category 4 hurricane and later struck the country’s northern states of Tamaulipas, Nuevo Leon, Veracruz and Coahuila.

This is the second year in a row that Grenada has experienced a direct hurricane hit and many residents were still struggling to recover from Hurricane Ivan in 2004. At the Richmond Home for the Elderly, one third of the roof was torn off and lost. The windows were damaged and water penetrated the facility, soaking patients and beds. Persons on the top floor had to be relocated to the ground floor. The repairs to the Richmond Home, undertaken last year in the wake of Hurricane Ivan with the cooperation of the Guyana Defense Force, were only temporary in nature.

The Princess Royal Hospital in Carriacou lost its galvanized roof (set last year after Hurricane Ivan) and part of the roof’s wooden structure. Patients had been either discharged or relocated to other facilities.

The St. George’s Hospital suffered damage to the operating theatre and the facility was flooded when windows were blown away. The Duncan Ward of the St. George’s General Hospital, which was retrofitted several years ago, withstood damage for the second time, as was the case following Hurricane Ivan. There was some minor leaking as water entered through windows. The laboratory was protected with anticipation and by and large, the hospital remained fully functional.

Hurricane Emily passed over Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on July 18 as a category 4 hurricane with 135 mph winds, causing less damage than was initially anticipated. An unfortunate helicopter accident in the Gulf of Mexico prior to the hurricane’s arrival resulted in two deaths, but no additional deaths were reported once the storm struck. Most of those who were evacuated (nationals and tourists) returned relatively quickly.

Mexico’s Secretary of Health conducted a damage assessment and visited shelters in the Yucatan Peninsula. According to government sources, some 50,000 people were evacuated and 23,500 were temporarily in shelters. Health officials monitored a potential increase in cases of dengue and took necessary precautions. As Hurricane Emily struck Mexico for the second time, another 44,000 people were evacuated in the northern states, but health sector needs were handled by the government and no damage to infrastructure was reported.


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