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By Cécile Lucot
    Cécile Lucot has been living in St. Barths for 9 years. Originally from Bordeaux, this professional journalist has been the editor-in-chief of St-Barth Magazine for 6 years. She is actually a reporter for the daily local mini-newspaper "Today" and writes regularly for regional magazines such as Mer Caraïbes and Tropical, and once or twice a month presents a synthese of the local news on St. Barths Online.
  October 4, 2004 - #29
  The population mobilizes to help islands devastated by hurricanes

Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne did quite a bit of damage to several Caribbean islands, including Grenada, Jamaica, Haiti, Santo Domingo, and The Bahamas before slamming into Florida. Ivan, the ninth named storm of the season, hit Granada with incredible force on September 8, flattening 90% of the homes and leaving 60,000 people homeless, out of a population of 95,000. Various non-governmental humanitarian organizations in the islands, as well as representatives from Saint-Martin, could only begin to assess the destruction on the “Isle of Spice.” They also reassured the families of French sailors who had come to put their sailboats in safe harbors. Some of the boats were damaged but none had disappeared completely. Boats based in Martinique, in Guadeloupe and in the Northern Islands usually descend toward the southernmost islands in the West Indies at the beginning of the hurricane season. These southern islands are usually know for their safe harbors outside of the normal trajectories taken by hurricanes and tropical storms.

The service clubs in Saint-Barth quickly began collections to help these destitute populations. On Wednesday, September 15, at the request of the Lions Club, residents as well as supermarket reps brought food items as well as hygiene products to the parking lot of ALMA in Public. A total of 15 tons of essential needs, such as bottled water, milk, rice, pasta, toilet paper, soap, matches, candles, flashlights, and tents. Numerous volunteers spontaneously proposed their help to the Lions Club in separating the goods and packing them into boxes. In Saint-Martin, the members of the service club assembled 23 palettes of food that was then sent over to Saint-Barth. The Rotary Club of Saint-Barthelemy quickly found six palettes of bottled water. A 40’ sea container was then filled will all these donated good, roughly 76 cubic meters of merchandise, that was transported free of charge to the island of Grenada by Tropical Shipping. Member of the local Lions Club accepted the container and distributed the merchandise.

On Saturday, September 18, 40 cubic meters of clothing and household linens were collected on the ALMA parking lot as well. This time, the Lions Club decided to keep the items in storage until a second humanitarian shipment is made; destination to be determined.

Haiti, and most specifically the northern region of Gonaives, was devastated by hurricane Jeanne of September 15. The Lions Club is in regular contact with Sister Jeanne-Maurice of the Saint-Vincent de Paul order, a nun who lives in Haiti after having spent a few years in Saint-Barth. Using her as an intermediary, the service club had collected funds last May to help the people of Haiti who had been subject to damage caused by torrential rains. These heavy levels of precipitation had caused more than 1200 deaths in areas of the island where major deforestation has increased the risks of flooding.

After discussion with the nun, the Lions Club decided to collect additional funds last Wednesday. As for the Rotary Club, they sent to Haiti (via Saint-Martin) 15 cubic meters of urgent items donated by the population and including essential food items and clothing as well as 500 pairs of new shoes. The fruits of this collection were added to those of the “Caribbean Solidarity” action organized in Saint-Martin by a joint effort of the service clubs, associations, and non-governmental agencies.

And finally, the first operation of this sort, “an educational day for solidarity and mutual aid in the Caribbean region,” presented by the academic director on Thursday, September 23. Entitled “a notebook, a pencil, and school supplies for needy Caribbean children,” a collection of school supplies was held in all secondary schools that wished to participate. Students, parents and teachers at the Mireille Choisy junior high school gathered more than 25 cartons of supplies. Elementary school Sainte-Marie in Colombier also participated as did the island’s stationary stores who brought notebooks, pens, ruler, markers, book bags, and blackboards. The collected supplies were sent to Pointe-a-Pitre where they were delivered to the departmental center for he Red Cross who will disperse everything to the disaster victims on other islands.

  More to come
  Cécile Lucot
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