[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
25616: (news) Chamberlain: Hurricane-Dennis (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By STEVENSON JACOBS
MORANT BAY, Jamaica, July 7 (AP) -- Ten-foot waves crashed on shore and
hundreds of islanders fled flooded homes Thursday as Hurricane Dennis
lashed Caribbean coastlines with winds whipped up to 110 mph.
The first hurricane of the season threatened to intensify as it headed
straight for Cuba. Forecasters at the U.S. Hurricane Cener in Miami
predicted the storm could hit the United States anywhere from Florida to
Louisiana by Sunday or Monday, raising fears that oil production in the
Gulf of Mexico would be disrupted by the fourth storm in as many weeks.
Thunderstorms covered the Dominican Republic and southern Haiti. The
Cayman Islands and Cuba were under hurricane warnings, including the U.S.
detention camp at Guantanamo Bay holding some 520 terror suspects.
The Florida Keys went on hurricane watch Thursday and ordered tourists
to evacuate, and the southern Florida peninsula was on tropical storm
watch, expecting severe conditions within 36 hours.
Rivers burst their banks in dangerously deforested Haiti and wind gusts
uprooted a palm tree and flung it into a mud hut, injuring two people who
were hospitalized in southern Les Cayes town.
In Jamaica, Prime Minister Percival Patterson urged people in low-lying
areas to evacuate.
"Let us all work together in unity so that we will be spared the worst,"
Patterson said in a national radio broadcast.
Despite his appeal, only about 1,000 people were in shelters late
afternoon, when local forecasters said the eye of the storm was passing 50
miles north of Port Antonio, on Jamaica's northeast coast.
Oil futures rose sharply Wednesday on concerns about the storm, but were
down nearly $2 Thursday morning, at $59.35 a barrel, as a series of
terrorist blasts in London led investors to abandon riskier investments.
Dennis came right behind Tropical Storm Cindy, which made landfall late
Tuesday in Louisiana and hindered oil production and refining. On Thursday,
remnants of Cindy dumped heavy rain on parts of the Carolinas, prompting
flash flood and tornado watches.
"It is possible that Dennis may become a major hurricane," the U.S.
National Hurricane Center warned.
Lead forecaster Martin Nelson said it was the first time the Atlantic
hurricane season had four named storms this early since record-keeping
began in 1851. The season runs from June 1 to Nov. 30.
In southern Haiti, gusts whipped sheets of rain that flooded roads and
homes with up to three feet of debris-filled water. Tin roofs torn from
homes and businesses tumbled in the wind. U.N. mission spokesman Damian
Onses-Cardona said the biggest concern was that the rains would cause
landslides on denuded mountains.
Last year, three catastrophic hurricanes -- Frances, Ivan and Jeanne --
tore through the Caribbean with a collective ferocity not seen in years,
causing hundreds of deaths and billions of dollars in damage.
Haiti took the deadliest hit of last year's hurricane season when
Jeanne, at the time a tropical storm, triggered flooding and mudslides:
1,500 people were killed, 900 missing and presumed dead and 200,000 left
homeless. Torrential rains burst river banks and irrigation canals and
unleashed mudslides that destroyed thousands of acres of fertile land in
In Jamaica, where Hurricane Ivan destroyed 8,000 homes and killed 17
people last year, a power line was knocked down Thursday in eastern Morant
Point and blocked the main coastal road.
"It's Dennis the menace," 34-year-old shopkeeper Wayne Brown said as he
raced to box up sodas, canned food and bread from his small wooden store.
He struggled to nail a blue tarp on the roof of the store, which was badly
damaged by Ivan.
"It's one storm after another," he said. "I've never seen anything like
it in all my years."
At 2 p.m., the storm was centered 65 miles northeast of Kingston,
Jamaica's capital, and the same distance southwest of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
It was moving toward the northwest at 15 mph, the Hurricane Center said.
Hurricane force winds extended up to 45 miles from the center and
tropical storm force winds another 140 miles.
Schools in Jamaica were closed until Friday for use as shelters.
Airports in Kingston and Montego Bay resort were closed, and Air Jamaica
canceled all flights.
Inside the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo Bay, the military played
audio tapes in at least eight languages warning that a storm was coming and
heavy steel shutters would be closed on some cell windows, said Col. Mike
Military officials had no immediate plans to evacuate troops or
detainees at Camp Delta, which is about 150 yards from the ocean but built
to withstand winds up to 90 mph, according to Navy Cmdr. Anne Reese.
Associated Press Writers Leonardo Aldridge in Les Cayes, Haiti, and Ben
Fox in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, contributed to this report.