Effects of Hurricane Georges in the Lesser Antilles


Effects of Hurricane Georges in the Lesser Antilles

The effects of Hurricane Georges in the Lesser Antilles were minimal in certain islands and major on others. Georges had formed on September 15 off the African coast. It had quickly strengthened into a Category 4-hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale on September 20 when it struck the Lesser Antilles with 150 mph (240 km/h) winds. The islands affected include Antigua, Barbuda, the British Virgin Islands, the United States Virgin Islands, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, St. Lucia and St. Maarten. St. Kitts and Nevis were also affected and sustained the most damage at US$445 million.

Preparations

Antigua was issued a Hurricane Watch on September 19. The hurricane watch was discontinued two days later on September 21. Several hundred people on the island of Montserrat went into twelve hurricane shelters as Georges passed by with winds of 100 mph (160 km/h).cite web
author=Government of Montserrat
year=1998
title=Montserrat This Week - 012
publisher=Government of Montserrat
accessdate=2007-08-22
url=http://www.geo.mtu.edu/volcanoes/west.indies/soufriere/govt/monmedia/1998/mt_1998_week012.html
] Montserrat was predicted to be hit directly by Georges. However, Georges shifted to the north and spared the island. 87 people had sought shelter from Georges in the British Virgin Islands before it had passed and food had arrived immediately to all 18 shelters.cite web
author=Pan American Health Organisation
year=1998-11-25
title=IMPACT OF HURRICANE GEORGES ON HEALTH SECTOR RESPONSE
publisher=Pan American Health Organisation
accessdate=2007-08-23
url=http://72.14.209.104/search?q=cache:zLp7rYCSPMYJ:www.paho.org/English/ped/conc-Carib_eng.doc+Hurricane+Georges+British+Virgin+Islands&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=15&gl=us
] The hurricane watch already in effect for St. Lucia and northward was extended to the US and British Virgin Islands on September 19. The, now Hurricane Warning, was discontinued on September 22. cite web
author=John L. Guiney
year=1999-01-05
title=Hurricane Georges Preliminary Report
publisher=National Hurricane Center
accessdate=2007-08-23
url=http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/1998georges.html
] Georges began to affect the United States Virgin Islands on September 21 as a 150 mph (240 km/h) storm.cite web
author=NCDC
year=1998
title=Event Record Details - US Virgin Islands - 21 Sep 1998, 06:00:00 AM AST
publisher=NOAA
accessdate=2007-08-24
url=http://www4.ncdc.noaa.gov/cgi-win/wwcgi.dll?wwevent~ShowEvent~347671
] On September 18, a hurricane watch was issued for the island of St. Lucia. The watch was dropped to a Tropical Storm Watch on September 20 and discontinued the next day.

Impact

Damage around the islands of Antigua and Barbuda was extensive, totaling an unknown number. Georges killed three people and seriously injured five others. 3,338 people were left homeless with about 2,000 homes either damaged or destroyed. Supplies of electricity, telephone services and water were all curtailed by Georges. Both islands' hospitals and airports suffered extensive damage.

No major damage was reported to public buildings in the British Virgin Islands. Some of the islands' homes had roofs blown off. The environment suffered major damage. There were many reports of eroded soil in areas where construction was in progress. Some of the soils were planted on roads in mangrove farms and in the sea, which could have potentially killed sea life. National Parks around the islands suffered minor damage except for Queen Elizabeth Park, which had many fallen trees. None of the schools in the area suffered any damage and opened again four days after Georges had passed. There were no fatalities in the islands and one minor injury was reported. There was no major damage to the islands' medical buildings. Pipe damage was found in two areas, but there was no damage to the sewage systems. The total damage in the British Virgin Islands was valued at US$9.404 million.

Maximum rainfalls were 6.79 inches at the airport in St. Croix and 5.26 inches at St. Thomas Airport. 55 boats were sunk on all three islands combined, 35 on St. Thomas, 5 on St. Croix and 15 on St. John. 20 homes on the three islands were destroyed while 50 sustained damage. The low number was probably due to adherence to building codes. Damage was limited to agricultural crops and livestock.cite web
author=NOAA
year=1998
title=Georges Pummels Caribbean, Florida Keys, and U.S. Gulf Coast
publisher=NOAA
accessdate=2007-08-23
url=http://lwf.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/reports/georges/georges.html
] The total damage equaled US$2 million.cite web
author=Shawn P. Bennett and Rafael Mojica
year=1998
title=HURRICANE GEORGES PRELIMINARY STORM REPORT
publisher=NOAA
accessdate=2007-08-23
url=http://www.srh.noaa.gov/sju/public_report.html
]

Driving winds and rains caused moderate flooding and washed out roads around the island. Heavy rains caused mudslides on Montserrat's main volcano.cite web
author=Montserrat Volcano Observatory
year=1998
title=Scientific Report 96
publisher=Montserrat Volcano Observatory
accessdate=2007-08-22
url=http://www.geo.mtu.edu/volcanoes/west.indies/soufriere/govt/scireps/mvo_report0096.html
] Teams began on September 21 to clean up fallen debris from roads around the island. Georges shifted ferry services to Antigua and caused the cancellation of a concert on the island. The islands of Saba, Saint Maarten and St. Eustacius suffered moderate damage from Hurricane Georges. On Saba, the island's hospital lost its roof and patients had to be evacuated to a geriatric home.cite web
author=ReliefWeb
year=1998
title=Hurricane Georges Situation Report #2
publisher=ReliefWeb
accessdate=2007-08-24
url=http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/rwb.nsf/db900sid/ACOS-64CA92?OpenDocument
] Later, the geriatric home lost its roof. The water system, airport and utilities were also damaged. In Saint Maarten, roofs were blown from houses, and some boats were sunk. In Saint Eustacius, no communication was possible throughout the island. Winds gusted up to 40 mph (60 km/h) with less than 1/4 of an inch of rain around the island.cite web
author=Peronal Accounts (Varies)
year=1998
title=Personal Accounts of Damage in St.Lucia
publisher=Caribbean Storm Network
url=http://www.stormcarib.com/georges/gstlucia.htm
] The island was mildly affected by Georges. The island however did receive $3 million in funds by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for 15 years of maturity.cite web
author=ReliefWeb
year=1998
title=World Bank finances emergency recovery and disaster management program for the Caribbean
publisher=ReliefWeb
accessdate=2007-08-23
url=http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/ACOS-64CSSJ?OpenDocument
]

Five fatalities were reported due to Georges on St. Kitts and Nevis.cite web
author=CIDI
year=1998-10-08
title=Caribbean: Hurricane Georges OFDA-09: Fact Sheet #9
publisher=CIDI
accessdate=2007-08-21
url=http://cidi.org/disaster/98b/0076.html
] The supply of electricity and telephone services were severely affected. The southern tip of St. Kitts, a major tourist site, was left in need of repair. Harbor hotels, ports and airports had extensive damage and 50 percent of the sugar crop was destroyed. Damage in St. Kitts totalled $445 million (1998 USD). US$8.5 million from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development was given to the islands.

Aftermath

The Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance paid for 11 rolls of plastic sheeting, 1 water bladder and 51 water jugs for Barbuda. 101 rolls of plastic sheeting, 5 water bladders and 502 water jugs were sent to Antigua. Total cost of the items came to about US$500,300.

After Georges passed, cases of acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis were found around the British Virgin Islands and other islands nearby.cite web
author=Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Leads From the Morbidity and Mortality
year=1998-11-25
title=Acute Hemorrhagic Conjunctivitis—St Croix, US Virgin Islands, September-October 1998
publisher=American Medical Association
accessdate=2007-08-23
url=http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/280/20/1737
]

See also

*Effects of Hurricane Georges in the Dominican Republic

References


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