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Jamaica, Cuba: Handling Hurricane Sandy

Tropical Storm Sandy, which had been on a direct course towards the Greater Antilles over the past few days, got upgraded to Category 1 hurricane status shortly before it made landfall in Jamaica. As early as Tuesday, Girl With a Purpose was posting updates to her blog:

Schools closed half-day, today and will be closed tomorrow.

Some persons have started to batten down.

We continue to pray that this lovely island of ours will be spared from the ravages of this storm/hurricane.

Following the storm's upgrade to hurricane status, Stunner's Afflictions noted that:

Sandy…now poses an even more serious threat to Jamaica. This is the first direct hit for the island since Hurricane Gilbert in 1988.

Both bloggers continued to give updates as regularly as they could. Girl With a Purpose wrote yesterday:

In Jamaica, we've been experiencing sporadic outbursts of moderate rain from Sandy's outer bands, but very few wind gusts.

There:
1) Have been mandatory evacuations in low-lying areas that are flood-prone. (Persons on the Pedro Cays – three small islands located 50 miles South of Jamaica, were ordered to evacuate from Monday, although some have refused to leave. The Jamaican Coast Guard had no other choice than to abandon them, as the Coast Guard had to secure its vessels.

2) Are presently 108 persons in shelters from four parishes on island: Clarendon, Portland, Kingston and St. Andrew.

Stunner's updates were accompanied by time checks and photographs:

12:13 Conditions are now deteriorating as Sandy now approaches the island. The rain has begun to increase in intensity. There has been report of flooding, storm surges in places like Caribbean Terrace and the temporary bridge at Kintire has been swept away by the raging Hope River.

12:52 The eastern end of Jamaica seems to be getting the brunt of the hurricane so far. Fallen trees have blocked some roadways and downed power poles have cut off power to many communities in Portland.

In his third update, he posted a video clip he recorded of “the first of the winds associated with hurricane Sandy so far in Kingston”:

As the storm finally left the island and headed to Cuba, Stunner wrote:

Hurricane Sandy has left the island of Jamaica but not without the scars associated with a hurricane. There have been reports of flooding, several trees are down, roads are blocked, several power lines are down leaving approximately 70% of the island without power. The city of Kingston is regaining power in may sections including where I am which go back power at approximately 12:00 midnight. The full impact will not be known until at least later today.

Cuba, meanwhile, was getting ready. Havana Times posted a series of updates. This one reported that:

The Cuban civil defense network declared an alarm phase in the eastern half of the island as what is now Hurricane Sandy closes in on the southeastern coast.

With the hurricane approaching the island the alarm phase geared to protect all human and animal life as well as property is in effect for the provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Holguín, Las Tunas and parts of Camaguey.

The authorities noted that the greatest threat posed is from the intense rains that can cause flooding.

The central Cuban provinces of Ciego de Avila, Sancti Spiritus and Villa Clara are on a hurricane watch phase.

Havana is not included in the provinces forecast to be affected by the passing of the hurricane.

Earlier today, the blog posted information about the authorities’ initial assessment of damage on the island:

Cuban TV reported hundreds of fallen trees in Santiago de Cuba with the entire city, Cuba’s second largest, without electricity.

The storm pulled off roofs of a still undetermined number of homes, felled trees as well as electric and telephone polls.

The tourist installations at Baconao Park to the east of Santiago were hit hard both by winds and sea surges.

Waves on the south coastline reached up to 10 meters high along the Malecón seawall of Siboney, 9 miles from Santiago de Cuba. The seawater invaded the land for 35 meters.

Meanwhile, in Holguin, Cuba’s third largest city, damage was reported to houses in the municipality of Banes, as well as power and telephone outages in Cueto and Mayarí.

It is still a category two storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale, close to becoming a major hurricane, as it moves into the Bahamas. The storm left Cuba near Cabo Lucrecia, Banes, Holguin, the same place where the devastating hurricane Ike entered in September 2008.

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