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Bajan students prepare for big storm

Flood waters rising early in Jamaica today.

More than 100 Barbadian students attending the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies were today preparing for what could be a major lash from Tropical Storm Sandy.

Classes at the campus, as was the case with schools and government offices across the country, were all closed by noon today, with students warned to complete their preparations, including securing drinking water to last three to 15 days.

And while meteorologists were forecasting that the island would start to feel the real effects of the system early tomorrow morning, there were reports that some minor flooding had started to occur in the country, including the capital Kingston, this evening.

In fact, the Jamaica Observer reported just after 3 p.m. that the Grants Pen ford in St. Andrew was already impassable, with motorists being advised to steer clear of the area.

With the island expected to be affected by heavy sustained rains that officials predict would bring flooding and landslides, strong winds that could tear off roofs and fell trees, which were expected to kick up coastal waves as high as seven feet above normal, residents in some low-lying areas were warned at midday that they had until 6 p.m. to evacuate to alternative locations of emergency shelters.

Meanwhile, security agencies warned that during the storm some areas of the country would be placed under curfew. Minister of Finance Dr. Peter Phillip said the districts would come under curfew from 6 p.m. today until Thursday morning.

“Only emergency personnel will be allowed movement during the period of the curfews,” he said.

Additionally, Prime Minister of Jamaica Portia Simpson Miller announced she would be cutting short her four-day official visit to Canada in the face of the weather threat. She was expected back at home this evening.

On its current track, the centre of Sandy is expected to make contact with the southernmost part of Jamaica early tomorrow, by which time it should be at hurricane strength, and travel across the centre of the island in the following 24 hours. Average winds will measure 118 kilometres per hour or higher. (RRM)

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