KINGSTON — Hurricane Sandy’s howling winds and pelting rains lashed precarious shantytowns, stranded travellers and downed power lines yesterday as it roared across Jamaica on a course to Cuba then possibly threaten Florida and the Bahamas.
Sandy’s death toll was at least two. An elderly man was killed in Jamaica when he was crushed by a boulder that rolled onto his house, police reported. Earlier, a woman in Haiti was swept away by a rushing river she was trying to cross.
In some southern towns on Jamaica, a few crocodiles were caught in rushing floodwaters that carried them out of their homes in mangrove thickets, showing up in districts where electricity was knocked out, local residents reported. One big croc took up temporary residence in a family’s front yard in the city of Portmore.
By evening the hurricane’s eye had crossed Jamaica and emerged off its northern coast near the town of Port Antonio, meteorologists said, but rain and winds continued to pound the island, and hurricane conditions lasted well into the night.
It was the first direct hit by the eye of a hurricane on Jamaica since Hurricane Gilbert 24 years ago, and fearful authorities closed the island’s international airports and police ordered 48-hour curfews in major towns to keep people off the streets and deter looting. Cruise ships changed their itineraries to avoid the storm, which made landfall eight kilometres east of the capital, Kingston.
The 18th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season passed over eastern Cuba today.
Cuban authorities issued a hurricane watch for several provinces. A hurricane watch was issued for the central and northwestern Bahamas, where the storm was predicted to pass between tonight and tomorrow morning.
This morning across Jamaica residents were picking up the pieces, but it appeared that in the corporate area, persons in sections of the Kingston 20 community of Maverly, Drewsland and Olympic Gardens had more to pick up than others.
When Gleaner news team reached Maverly dozens of fallen trees were seen particularly around Denver Crescent and adjoining roads.
Several houses were without roofs while one man pointed to the roof of his house with large mango tree in it.
“See it here, Sandy lift up every zinc and is in the rain me had to come and put block on them but that don’t stop me whole house from wet up,” said one woman who gave her name as Iota.
“Me chicken coup roof gone and is that provide the money to run the house. How we ago manage and how me ago get the zinc to fix this back,” added Iota.
Near-by, two young men were seen cutting the limbs of a tree that had fallen onto the roof of their house while the buzz of power saws was constant throughout the community.
Metres away, two broken Jamaica Public Service Company polls lay across Mandela Highway in the vicinity of the Six Miles bridge forcing motorists to divert.
In Drewsland, one house without its roof drew the attention of passers-by while other house owners pointed to the missing sheets from their roofs.
On Olympic Way, two JPS poles lay across the road creating a major traffic block.
That was compounded by the dozens of fallen trees across the roadway and in almost every yard.
“Sandy did wicked to we,” said one resident as he pointed to his house where an ackee tree had fallen on his roof.