On 22-23 September 1955, Hurricane Janet, an exceptional storm, ravaged Grenada. It broke all the rules.
The hurricane warning was broadcast by the Windwards Island Broadcasting Service (WIBS) from noon on 22 September, and with increased frequency and urgency thereafter. Unfortunately, people took insufficient notice of the warnings.
The population’s blasé attitude vanished with the arrival of hurricane-force winds and torrential rains at 6.30 pm. From this hour and until 6 am the next morning, Hurricane Janet, packing winds up to 130 miles per hour, punched, trod on, ripped up and otherwise laid waste Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. In Grenada, 120 lives, 50% of the housing stock and 70% of the nutmeg trees were lost.
In Carriacou and Petite Martinique, 27 lives were lost, 500 persons were injured, and almost the whole population was left homeless.
The estimated damage was US$20 million.
After the hurricane passed, to avoid the outbreak of disease, 80% of the population was vaccinated against typhoid. Prefabricated houses from Suriname — known today as Janet Houses — came as part of the international aid which flowed into Grenada.
Paraphrased from Grenada: A History of its People by Beverley A Steele
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