HURRICANE Sandy churned across the island yesterday, ripping off roofs, uprooting trees, downing utility poles and knocking out electricity in a near three-hour trek that mostly affected eastern parishes.
Last night, the storm was blamed for the death of one man — a resident of Bedward Gardens in St Andrew, who was killed after a boulder fell on his house.
Sandy also forced 1,046 Jamaicans into 67 shelters across the island and triggered flooding, as well as widescale land slippages.
The late-season hurricane that caught many Jamaicans by surprise made landfall on the south-eastern coast of the island approximately five miles east of Kingston at 2:00 pm.
Yesterday evening, the Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS) reported that 70 per cent of its customer base was without electricity.
JPS said the strong winds and heavy rainfall brought by the hurricane "resulted in downed poles and lines particularly in the parishes of Portland, St Mary, St Ann, St Thomas, St James, Westmoreland, and Hanover".
According to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Portland and St Thomas — neighbouring parishes on the eastern end of the island — fared the worst from the slow-moving Category One system.
ODPEM Director General Ronald Jackson told the Jamaica Observer that initial reports from Portland indicated that there were of parish-wide landslides.
Several roads within the communities of Cascade, Fellowship and Reach were blocked as a result of landslides, Jackson said.
Roads in Blue Lagoon remained impassable last night and several houses were also damaged by downed trees.
Jackson said that there was a problem with flooding in St Thomas.
There were however, no reports of deaths or injuries from those parishes.
There were also reports of flooding in Treasure Beach in St Elizabeth.
Today, the ODPEM is expected to begin an islandwide assessment of the damage caused by the hurricane, which is the first to hit Jamaica since the start of the hurricane season on June 1. The season ends on November 30.
"We are waiting for the all-clear to start our full assessment [today]," Jackson said.
He also said that the people in shelters have been provided with cots and blankets. "And where those have run out, we go for foam pads."
The only incident at the shelters, Jackson said, concerned some individuals who had not received breakfast.
"And we managed to sort that out," the ODPEM boss said.