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25624: (news) Chamberlain: Hurricane-Dennis (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By STEVENSON JACOBS
MORANT BAY, Jamaica, July 8 (AP) -- Hurricane Dennis swept away a bridge
and peeled tin roofs off homes in Haiti, killing at least five people as it
strengthened to a Category 4 storm and headed straight for Cuba.
Forecasters said it could reach the U.S. Gulf Coast by Sunday.
The Hurricane Center in Miami said the eye was swirling over water about
100 miles south of the Cuban coast and moving to the northwest at about 15
miles an hour.
The hurricane's winds neared 135 mph as it sideswiped Jamaica on
Thursday. Forecasters 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 swept over the Dominican Republic, southern Haiti and
northeast Jamaica. The Cayman Islands and Cuba were under hurricane
warnings, including the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay holding some
520 terror suspects.
Hurricane Center forecasters warned the Sierra Maestra Mountains in
southeastern Cuba could get 15 inches of rain, while Jamaica's
coffee-producing Blue Mountains could see 10 inches. Hurricane force winds
reached 50 miles from eye and tropical storm force winds another 140 miles.
In the southwestern Haitian town of Grand Goave, an Associated Press
Television News reporter saw at least four people killed when a wood and
metal bridge collapsed. Witnesses said the river came suddenly rushing over
Elsewhere on the dangerously deforested island, wind gusts uprooted a
palm tree and sent it into a mud hut, killing a fifth person in the
southern town of Les Cayes, the Red Cross said. Many homes and roads in the
south were flooded, some by as much as three feet of water.
The Florida Keys were under a hurricane warning Thursday and ordered
tourists to evacuate, and the southern Florida peninsula was on tropical
storm watch, expecting severe conditions within 36 hours.
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.
The hurricane center warned the eye could pass over central Cuba
sometime Friday afternoon. In the communist-run island, where the
military-style government has been praised by the United Nations for its
extensive hurricane preparedness plans, more than 100,000 people had been
evacuated in the island's southeast, civil defense officials said on state
There were no immediate plans to evacuate detainees or troops from the
U.S. detention center's Camp Delta at Guantanamo Bay, located on Cuba's
extreme southeast end about 150 yards from the ocean, Gen. Jay Hood said.
Troops put heavy steel shutters on sea-facing cell windows as heavy surf
sent splashes of salt spray over the razor wire fence. Officials said Camp
Delta was built to withstand winds up to 90 mph.
Oil prices rose sharply Wednesday on concerns about the Caribbean
weather, but closed down 55 cents Thursday, at $60.73 a barrel, as
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.
The hurricane center's 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.
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.