ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada – Only a few ceiling beams obstruct the view of the night sky from the living room, but the tiny wooden house still has a patch of corrugated zinc roof left — enough for five people to take refuge for the night.
"Everybody's sleeping on the floor," said Lera Williams, 38, an unemployed woman staying in her fiancée's house with others Friday night, three days after her home was flattened by Hurricane Ivan (search).
One mattress left in the man's house was soaked and ruined, and debris lay tossed about the yard.
The fierce winds that struck Tuesday pulled apart most roofs and left an acute crisis in Grenada (search), where more than half the 100,000 residents are homeless and in desperate need of shelter, water and basic supplies.
"No clothes to wear, everything is gone. No food to eat, water to drink," Williams said.
Instead, she poured a bit of sparkling wine, perhaps saved for a special occasion, into a single cup and shared it with two friends.
Then she prepared to go to sleep as darkness fell because they did not have even a candle.
Glimmers of light came from fires lit on distant hills, apparently by less fortunate survivors.
Earlier in the day, some people were seen gathering water from ponds of floodwater. One man on a street split open a coconut for its liquid.
Some relief trickled in, but residents said they had yet to see any of it.
Following a frenzy of looting, troops from Trinidad and Antigua patrolled the streets of St. George's, the capital, carrying assault rifles. Other Caribbean troops stopped cars at roadblocks and enforced a nighttime curfew.
The American Red Cross (search) disaster unit said Grenada's government had temporarily closed the country to relief shipments to get security under control. Doug Allen, who heads the unit, said the Red Cross would send $70,000 worth of relief supplies as soon possible. The country must have aid within two days to avoid a critical situation, he said.
About 10 tons of donated supplies — from drinking water to tarpaulins and medicine — arrived Friday aboard the fishing boat from nearby Trinidad and Tobago. Private citizens came up with the donations quickly, said Bruce Milve, a 45-year-old Trinidadian who helped organize the shipment.
"That's just how Caribbean neighbors are," he said, unloading supplies near a boatyard where scores of sailboats were blown over.
Hurricane Ivan's toll has risen to 37 dead across the Caribbean. But efforts to determine a complete toll in Grenada have been hindered by blocked roads, landslides and lack of telephone service, Police Commissioner Fitzroy Bedeau said.
Hospital director Esther Henry-Fleary said at least 26 people have died in Grenada, and the hospital has treated about 500 injured. But she said they were short of key supplies as well as nurses, many of whose homes were destroyed.
"I'm homeless," said Rosalyn Mapson, 32, waiting in line to have a doctor treat a festering wound on her foot. She said she had taken her four children to stay in a room that remains intact in a damaged church.
"It's uncomfortable. We just have to sleep on a bench," said Mapson, a hairdresser. "We don't have anywhere else to go."
The hurricane knocked out electricity and telephone service as it left a wasteland of shattered homes and hillsides covered with snapped trees, splintered wood and twisted metal.
Prime Minister Keith Mitchell, whose home was among those destroyed, has driven through the destruction. Trinidad Prime Minister Patrick Manning said Mitchell asked him during a meeting on Thursday to pass along an aid request to the United Nations.
Government officials estimated some 90 percent of homes were damaged or destroyed. The main businesses, including tourism and spice crops such as nutmeg, also took a hit.
Many Grenadians say they have never seen such devastation and expect rebuilding could take years.
A tent is the new home of Manisha Sharma, a 31-year-old medical student from Boston studying at St. George's University. She was sharing the tent with 15 people, including her landlord and four children. "It's been fun ... I have 15 people with me, four kids," she said.
Veronica Phillip laid soaked clothes to dry on bushes and scraps of metal around her roofless house. The 52-year-old cook said she cried when she saw the destruction in so many neighborhoods.
"Everything's gone," said Phillip, who was staying with a neighbor. "We don't know what the government will do. We don't have any money or anything. The whole island is destroyed."