Hurricane season hit with speed and fury this year, destroying homes and businesses, and devastating the lives of people in the southern United States and the Caribbean. St. George's University in Grenada, British West Indies, including the School of Veterinary Medicine, was one institution that took a hit in early September. Hurricane Ivan pounded the island of Grenada, causing the deaths of 35 people and damaging 90 percent of the homes on the island of 100,000 people.
While St. George's School of Veterinary Medicine survived without as much damage as other community structures in Grenada, the school's teaching hospital lost the front of its building, reception area, and one laboratory. The rest of the campus suffered water damage and many broken windows. The damage to the school and the sheer destruction of the rest of the island made resuming classes at St. George's impossible.
"Grenada hadn't had a hurricane in 50 years," said Bob Ryan, associate dean of enrollment planning at St. George's. "I don't think anybody at all on the island, even up to a couple hours before the hurricane, was prepared for it. It was veering north and then it changed direction."
Fortunately, according to Ryan, the veterinary school was able to quickly make arrangements to borrow space at three schools where St. George's students traditionally spend their fourth year of clinical training. "We will be placing our own faculty and our own support staff (there), and the students will continue the St. George's curriculum at those institutions," Ryan said.
St. George's veterinary school takes in two classes per year, one that starts in August and one that starts in January. Students in their first year will be studying at North Carolina State University. Students in their second year will be continuing at Purdue University. And students in their third year will be studying at Kansas State University. Classes began on Oct. 4, and the term will end Dec. 22, 2004.
At press time, St. George's was working out housing arrangements for students and will pay for accommodations for students who were living in campus housing. Purdue actually had an entire dormitory that was empty and available to house the students from Grenada—it was newly constructed, but had not been completed in time for the incoming class.
Many other schools offered their help. "I received e-mails from numerous different universities both for medicine and veterinary, offering facilities and offering space," Ryan said.
The veterinary school at St. George's is aiming to repair the damage to the veterinary school and resume classes in Grenada by January 2005, Ryan says.