Caymans Brace As Hurricane Dean Nears: AP

August 20, 2007 at 9:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – Frantic vacationers lined up at ticket counters and slept on the airport floor, rushing to leave the Cayman Islands ahead of an expected brush Monday from Hurricane Dean, which has left a deadly trail of destruction across the Caribbean.

With winds nearing 150 mph, Dean was expected to pass to the south of the Caymans but the government said it still posed a “significant threat” to the islands and imposed a curfew on the British territory. Forecasters said the islands could receive up to 12 inches of rain.

Cayman Islands Gov. Stuart Jack said all but 1,500 tourists had been evacuated from the British territory by Sunday afternoon.

“It’s kind of spooky,” said George Mitchell, of Detroit, who missed his flight out. “We don’t know what to do or where to go. It freaks you out.”

The National Hurricane Center in Miami said the first hurricane of the Atlantic season was a powerful Category 4 storm, and could reach the highest level — Category 5, with maximum winds greater than 155 mph — later Monday.

As of 8 a.m. EDT Monday, Dean was about 440 miles east of Belize City, traveling west at about 21 mph, the National Hurricane Center said.

In Texas, already saturated after an unusually rainy summer, emergency operations centers opened, prison inmates were moved inland, and officials distributed sandbags — taking no chances even though Dean’s path was still uncertain.

“Our mission is very simple. It’s to get people out of the kill zone, to get people out of the danger area, which is the coastline of Texas,” said Johnny Cavazos, chief emergency director of Cameron County, at Texas’ southern tip.

In Mexico, travelers also slept on floors at Cancun’s international airport, hoping for one of the last flights out Monday before Dean was expected to slam into Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

Nicolas Martignoles, 27, a teacher from Paris, stretched out on the airport floor with friends, prepared to wait all night. “We came to the airport because we are on standby, but all the flights are full, so we are waiting for another flight tomorrow.”

Dean killed at least eight people as it moved across the Caribbean, but Jamaica avoided a direct hit when the storm wound up passing to the south Sunday night.

Still, Dean uprooted trees, flooded streets and tore the roofs off many homes, businesses and a prison block in Jamaica. No prisoners escaped.

Police got into a shootout with looters at a shopping center in the central parish of Clarendon, but nobody was hurt, Constable Cheree Greaves said. Assistant Commissioner of Police Linval Bailey said curfews were in effect until Monday evening. Authorities also cut power on the island to prevent damage to the power grid.

The government set up more than 1,000 shelters in converted schools, churches and the indoor national sports arena, but only 47 shelters were occupied as the storm moved in, said Cecil Bailey of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management. More people trickled in later.

George Lee, mayor of the Portmore community near the Jamaican capital Kingston, said appeals to evacuate went unheeded. Some islanders said they were afraid for their belongings if they moved to shelters.

“Too much crime in Kingston. I’m not leaving my home,” Paul Lyn said in Port Royal, east of Kingston.

Many tourists who did not get flights out took shelter at places such as Sandals Whitehouse, a resort that has buildings capable of withstanding a powerful storm.

Trinice Tyler, a postal worker from Lake Elsinore, Calif., said she would weather the storm there “on my knees praying.”

“I’m celebrating my 40th birthday today, and it’s going to be a birthday to remember,” she said. “I have mixed emotions. It’s exciting, but I’m nervous. Am I going to make it home?”

The hurricane created massive waves and surges up to 20 feet high as it passed the Dominican Republic on Saturday, flooding roads and drowning a boy. At least two people were killed and about 150 homes were destroyed in Haiti, emergency officials said.(AP)

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  1. […] Caymans Brace As Hurricane Dean Nears: AP August 20, 2007 at 9:41 pm | In | No Comments GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands – Frantic vacationers lined up at ticket counters and slept on the airport floor, rushing to leave the Cayman Islands ahead of an expected brush Monday from Hurricane Dean, which source: Caymans Brace As Hurricane Dean Nears: AP, […]


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