KINGSTON, Jamaica — More that 400 Jamaicans are in shelters as Hurricane Sandy makes landfall in Jamaica, packing winds of 130 kilometres per hour and bringing with her six to 12 inches of rainfall.
“We now have over 437 persons in emergency shelters though those numbers could be higher at this time,” Ronald Jackson, director general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), told the Jamaica Observer minutes before 2:00 pm today.
Those individuals are drawn from Portland, St Thomas, St Catherine, Clarendon, and Kingston and St Andrew.
“Kingston and St Andrew has the largest number. Of that number, we have two shelters in Kingston and St Andrew housing 80 homeless persons,” he said.
At the same time, Jackson said they have received reports of roadblock and other impacts from the hurricane.
“Alligator Pond [in St Elizabeth] was inundated with the high waves that came ashore. We are now getting reports of impacts out in St Catherine, Portland and St Thomas as the ground becomes saturated. We are now seeing where light poles are toppling and landslides being reported and roadway being flooded to the point where there is impeded access in east St Thomas,” the ODPEM boss said.
Meanwhile, at 1:00 pm today, the Meteorological Service said the centre of Hurricane Sandy was located 30 miles south of Kingston.
“Sandy is now moving towards the north near 22 km/h and this general motion is expected to continue today and tomorrow with a slight increase in forward speed. On this track, the centre of Sandy is expected to move over eastern Jamaica this afternoon and this evening,” the Met Office revealed.
Sandy is a currently a category one hurricane though some strengthening is possible before it moves over Jamaica.
“Hurricane force winds extend outward up to 35 km (25 miles) from the centre, and tropical storm force winds extend up to 220 kilometres (140 miles), primarily east of the centre,” the Met Office noted.