The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida on September 23, 1989 · 191
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The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida · 191

Miami, Florida
Issue Date:
Saturday, September 23, 1989
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HURRICANE HUGO SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 23 1989 THE MIAMI HERALD INTERNATIONAL EDITION UH Damage breakdown Bush declares islands eligible for US relief From Herald Staff and Wire Reports More than 30 people died and perhaps 100000 were left homeless as Hurricane Hugo raked the easfem Caribbean" (Vith communications networks still down on most islands casualty and damage surveys were incomplete Here is a summary of hurricane effects talked so far on the basis of preliminary reports: US Virgin Islands A thousand military police and squads of federal marshals took over law enforcement duties abandoned by the police and the National Guard on St Croix The Coast Guard reported 600 people evacuated The action marks the first time US troops have been deployed to quell a civil disturbance since Washington riots after civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in April 1968 Hugo left as many as 97 percent of the buildings on St Croix damaged or destroyed There were at least two deaths Bush has declared the islands a disaster area eligible for federal emergency aid to rebuild ruined homes businesses and public works Amateur radio reports told of 300 to 500 prison inmates running loose It was not clear whether they had escaped or were released after the damaged prison ran out of food and power Amerada Hess Corp said its St Croix oil refinery — one of the world’s largest with a daily capacity of 545000 barrels — was incapacitated The US Virgin Islands consist of St Croix St Thomas St John and 50 smaller islands and cays SL Croix lies about 40 miles east of Puerto Rico The total land area of the islands is 133 square miles There was slightly less severe damage on St Thomas and there were fewer reports of looting Hotels reported structural and water damage British Virgin Islands At least $50 million in damage is confirmed with estimates tripling that figure About 30 percent of the houses throughout the islands lost their roofs Some electricity has been restored in the capital area but the other islands have none At least 50 percent or more of the islands’ agriculture was wiped out About a third of the private homes were ruined on the island of Tortola Beef Island-Tortola Airport is open Guadeloupe Eleven dead dozens injured 10000 to 12000 homeless The island home to 340000 people was ravaged Corrugated steel roofs were tom off buildings Dozens of boats were beached by 24-foot waves A French air force helicopter crashed in the sea while aiding in rescue efforts near on La Desirade an out island six people were killed and three others were missing Air Guadeloupe resumed inter-island flights and American Airlines plans to resume international service today Montserrat Ten people were killed and 40 injured As many as 90 percent of the homes were destroyed or heavily damaged Schools hospitals and the police department suffered serious damage in the British dependency population 12000 “The whole island is totally devastated” Chief Minister John Osborne said “It looks like a fire went right through the whole land" Government headquarters was said to be virtually destroyed So were the power station fuel storage tanks and a number of churches Communications were still out Limited restoration of water and electrical service was begun Puerto Rico Seven people are known to have been killed At least 30000 are known to be homeless estimates run to 55000 The Red Cross said about 25000 were still in shelters Gov Rafael Hernandez Colon said damage would run to $300 million President Bush declared Puerto Rico a disaster area eligible for government financial aid in reconstructing homes buildings and public facilities Seventy percent of the island still had no water supply and 25 percent no electricity National Guard troops patrolled the streets There were 30 arrests for looting Tuesday but none reported since then Antigua-Barbuda Estimated damage: $37 million Roofs were stripped from 15 percent of the small houses another 15 percent were otherwise damaged Power lines were down and the business district was left full of silt as five feet of water receded Thousands of boats were damaged Limited air travel service was resumed Parts of Antigua and Barbuda have been without power and water since Saturday The population of the islands is about 7500 St Martin Reports from the Dutch side of this Dutch-French island on the fringe of the storm indicated that dozens of homes lost roofs About 25 sailboats were severely damaged a boat with four people aboard was missing SLKitts-Nevis Charles Pole 61 of Crab Hill Sandy Point on St Kitts died of injuries caused by a wall that collapsed on him as he fed his animals The homes of more than 1300 people on St Kitts were destroyed or uninhabitable The airport control tower wps out of order electricity still cut off roads blocked and a radio station closed Amateur radio reports of four deaths on Nevis were still unconfirmed Thursday 90 percent of the population was homeless Government buildings and Alexandra Hospital are badly damaged The worst came from a surge of sea water 20 feet high About 48000 people live on the islands which are former British colonies Dominica The water supply was disrupted the airport damaged and miles of costal road wrecked Heavy damage also was done to bridges and storm drains Landslides cut some villages off from the rest of the island Dubique was isolated when the sea washed away a main road US TROOPS ARRIVE: Private Joseph Chaisson holds both an M16 and an M60 as the first US troops arrive in Christiansted early Thursday US troops arrive in St Croix Islanders fearful as looting continues By CARLOS HARRISON Hvnlii CfaH IWntor CHRISTIANSTED US Virgin Islands — More than 1200 heavily armed US soldiers FBI agents and US Marshals landed Thursday on St Croix to bring law back to an island paradise terrorized and sacked by bands of armed looters “Thank God for the United States of America that’s all I can say” said Kay Vereen a bartender from North Carolina who has lived on the island for two years Despite the denials of local and territorial government officials island residents and visitors said St Croix had been in chaos for the four days since Hurricane Hugo left 90 percent of its 55000 people homeless St Croix the largest of the US Virgin Islands also had no electricity and a diminishing water supply “Monday and Tuesday it was lawless” said Alex Pe-lovitz a nine-year resident of the island Nearly 220 prisoners — including nearly 20 maximum-security inmates — had escaped By Thursday government officials said most of them had been captured Even as the 1100 military police officers 60 FBI agents and 61 US marshals ordered in by President Bush arrived on the island mobs of looters continued to storm stores They took everything from canned goods and meat to color television sets and model airplane kits Much of the daytime looting occurred in Freder-icksted a popular docking spot for cruise ships “It’s very bad there” said Herman Wirshing head of Puerto Rico’s US Marshals office Wirshing was packing a MAC-10 submachine in a shoulder holster with two magazines taped end to end for quick reloadmg Residents continued to report that local police and national guardsmen had joined in the looting loading television sets into squad cars and refrigerators onto camouflaged trucks “I personally saw a policeman break open the window at Java Rap’s the clothing store with his billy club” Pelovitz said The citizens of Christiansted responded to the lawlessness with a law of their own “Everybody is running around with guns to protect what little they have There is no government” said Mark Sperber 23 owner of the King Christian Hotel He wore a 9mm Walther PPK in a holster on his belt as he walked the streets The landing force came with riot shotguns M-16s and M-60s There were no reports of the force having to use the weapons But residents remained fearful “They can’t control the whole island” Mike McCane said “Now that everything is gone from the stores they’ve started going into people’s homes” said St Croix Daily News reporter Paul Jefferson “People are scared" But government officials insisted that looting on the island had been minimal that press reports of the situation had been overblown and that order was returning without US military intervention “There is a degree of looting in the streets” said St Croix’s acting press officer Claudette Young-Hinds who normally serves as the island’s director of energy “Many of the storekeepers have said ‘Let the people take what they need rather than let it spoil’ ’’ The editor of the Virgin Islands Business Journal said a St Thomas radio station told listeners that reports of widespread looting were false and that the soldiers came to St Croix to help clear debris and rebuild “They’re trying to put the best face on it" said the editor Jean Etsinger “The whole economy depends on tourism" Looting is only one of the island’s problems Even after it has been stopped and order is restored on the is- C W GRIFFIN Miami Herald Staff ON CALL: Officer responds to report of shots being fired during looting at beverage warehouse land St Croix faces months if not years of rebuilding Young-Hinds said the island’s power system had been destroyed Most power poles and lines were down and the generating plant had been damaged The water plant is damaged and leaking sewage Luckily most residents have water in home cisterns required by the building code she said Oil that has spilled into the ocean from tanks at both of the island’s refineries is threatening the shoreline she said Associated Press LOOTING: Woman carries a box of cups away from a store in Christiansted And more than 3000 homeless are spending their fifth night at 15 shelters set up since the storm Hundreds more show up every day for meals after spending the night in their roofless homes or in cars she said Faced with the terrifying crisis more than 150 people waited late Thursday at St Croix’s Alexander Hamilton Airport all hoping for seats on one of the few flights out “I don’t care where you send me” said Jane Lee of Kentucky “Just get me out of here” 'Thank God for the United States ’ KAY VEREEN bartender T personally saw a policeman break open the window at the clothing store ALEX PELOVITZ resident STANDING GUARD: Valerie McDermott uses a machete Thursday to guard a truck in Christiansted US Virgin Islands Associated Press Puerto Rico woos tourists amid turmoil ByLIZBALMASEDA Herald Staff Writer SAN JUAN Puerto Rico — Shortly after Hugo moved on the government-hired tourism cameras scoured the beaches They gathered footage of cleanup crews overworked hotel staffers and sunbathers who lay amid the rubble They got sound bites from tourists: “Everything is fine here" Armed with this boosterish material Puerto Rico’s tourism chief Miguel Domenech is hitting the road Monday he’s holding a press conference in New York He wants to project the bright side of an industry that is a mainstay of the country’s economy But everything is not fine after Monday’s hurricane Vast sections of the island are still without light and water Some hotels in the capital were closed for repair Others functioned on limited electricity and rationed water Leisure boats sunk in San Juan’s harbor were still keeping cruise ships away and allowed only limited passage of cargo and ships Thursday And while a reduced number of international flights were operating out of San Juan’s Luis Munoz Marin airport a full schedule hinged on the repair of six radar sets which could take days Progress reports conflicted dramatically It could be days weeks months before the island is back to normal What is most evident in the storm’s chaotic after-math is the impact on the poor the small-business owners and the island’s tourism In Puerto Rico where more than half the island’s three million residents are on welfare where the average annual income is $4900 — less than half that for the poorest American state — the average person has meager financial reserves The so-called “shining star” of the Caribbean could dim if the cleanup drains its resources Particularly hurt was the island’s $60 million coffee industry Industry experts say up to 80 percent of this season’s early harvest could be lost However Puerto Rico’s thriving manufacturers who generate 62 percent of the island’s gross domestic product believe they were largely spared from serious setbacks Producers of pharmaceuticals electronics apparel and other assembled goods destined for the US mainland pour $13 billion into Puerto Rico’s economy each year Nevertheless manufacturers could suffer indirectly says Bacardi Corp President Manuel Luis Del Valle who heads Puerto Rico’s manufacturers’ association “A lot of houses and small businesses were lost The public is seriously affected That’s going to affect their spending power” Del Valle said Thursday morning in old San Juan merchants scraped tape from windows and business-suited figures returned to power breakfasts over fast-food muffins Some merchants opened for business despite their electricity and water restrictions “No thanks to the government” said Marta Moreno the manager of the Hermes bookstore and cafe on Con-dado’s busy Ashford Avenue She spent two days shoveling debris from her establishment Puerto Rico Chamber of Commerce President Ramiro Luis Colon said established merchants could benefit indirectly from the initial post-hurricane period as have hawkers who are peddling goods at inflated prices “People who lost a stove in the hurricane are going to go out and buy another one” he said “But I don’t think that will last” V

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