Monday, August 3, 2009

Hurricane Ivan Devastation of Grenada in 2004

Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (19 of 53)
On September 7, 2004 Hurricane Ivan rolled over the Eastern Caribbean island of Grenada leaving devastation in it’s wake.  Ivan left Grenada in shambles with 39 dead and over $1 Billion U.S. dollars in damage.
I featured a few shots from Grenada In a prior post with a promise to return with additional shots.  In this entry I will live up to that promise.
Hurricane Ivan was the strongest hurricane of the 2004 hurricane season.  Ivan carried sufficient energy and caused enough damage to earn the nickname of “Ivan the Terrible” amongst the media.  With respect to strength, Ivan reached the devastating “Category 5” classification and was the sixth most intense Atlantic Hurricane on record.
Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (13 of 53)
I arrived in Grenada just four days after Ivan passed departed for further mischief in Jamaica, Cuba, and the United States.  The estimated damage in Grenada was valued at $1.1 Billion.  By the time Ivan was done an additional $13 Billion in damage was recorded in the U.S. alone.  When Ivan hit Gulf Shores Alabama, it was a strong category three hurricane about the size of the state of Texas.
Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (15 of 53)
In addition to the damage (total estimated at $18.1 Billion), Ivan was also a deadly hurricane.  39 dead were recorded in Grenada, 54 in the U.S. and a total of 121 deaths for all countries in Ivan’s path (92 deaths were attributed directly to Ivan, and an additional 29 were categorized as indirect deaths).
Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (23 of 53)
When I arrived in Grenada, the airport was still closed.  I was able to make my way to Grenada via a military charter flight from Trinidad and Tobago.  Knowing that water and food were likely to be very limited, and not wanting to be an additional burden, my kit was comprised of a couple pair of jeans, several t-shirts, and a lot of pre-cooked rice and beans, and water.  I packed enough to survive for two weeks.  I literally mean survive…I could not pack enough to satisfy my typically generous appetite.  In the end it worked out well.  I lost nearly 15 pounds on my hurricane Ivan diet.
Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (29 of 53)
In addition to the minimalist diet, I also spent most of the two weeks sleeping under a desk in the U.S. Consulate using my spare pare of jeans for a pillow.  By the end of my time in Grenada, the floor did not seem so bad.  However, returning to my bed at home was a welcome change.  I had not latitude for complaint given the great number of people left homeless by the storm.
Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (30 of 53)
As you can see from the previous shot and the one following, included in the chaos left by hurricane Ivan, a number of houses were simply pushed into the street.  In many ways, these were the lucky ones; large numbers of homes simply disappeared or were reorganized by Ivan as little more than an unrecognizable pile of rubble.
Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (31 of 53)
The next photograph is emblematic of a segment of Grenada that sustained a great deal of damage – boats – both pleasure and fishing.  This boat is several hundred yards inland, and across a major road, from it’s moorings.  Had it not been for the hillside just beyond the road (off frame on the right side of the photograph), it is hard to tell where this boat might have ended.
Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (32 of 53)
One of the challenges associated with any catastrophe such as this is access to fresh water.  Inevitably some portion of the population has it better in this regard than others.  Living next to a stream can range from being a convenience to literally being the difference between life and death. 
One of the things that always intrigues me is the ability of children to find a way to have fun regardless of how gloomy the circumstances might be.  The children in Grenada were no exception.Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (38 of 53)
Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (39 of 53)
The next series of pictures show another particularly hard hit segment of Grenada – the churches.  In many cases, buildings around the churches were barely damaged while the church was left with a couple of standing walls.  This could beg some metaphysical questioning, or one might simply conclude…hey, the churches were just old.
Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (41 of 53)
Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (48 of 53)
Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (49 of 53)
Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (43 of 53)
I will complete this entry with two pictures that do a very nice job of summing up hurricane Ivan.  Out of context, they are likely just mildly interesting.  However, viewed in context of the hurricane Ivan storyline, they are much more telling.
Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (51 of 53)
Grenada after Hurricane Ivan  (53 of 53)
Before bringing this post to an end, I will talk briefly about the look and feel I was trying to achieve in making these photographs.  Most obvious is the avoidance of color.  I believe that b/w, sepia, selenium toning and strong desaturation are the appropriate approaches to reflect a mood consistent with the catastrophe experienced by the people of Grenada. 
Many of the shots are “busy.”  In other words with debris strewn in all directions, the compositions are terribly disorderly in comparison to one’s normal expectations.  This chaos is even more difficult visually when viewed in color.  I believe the black and white/muted tones help the eye make greater sense of the scene.
The second aspect of this collection is the absence of people (with a couple exceptions).  As a group of photographs I believe the absence of people punctuates the level of destruction.  You may have wondered as you looked through the photographs…”where are the people…did the storm take them away?”  With the dark mood of the photographs coupled with the description of the storm, it is easy to imagine a devastated landscape completely stripped and devoid of life.
Until next time, go make some great photography!

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