TCI now among islands preparing for Matthew

Visitors urged to leave the British overseas territory

Sunday, October 02, 2016

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PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands (CMC) — The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) tourism officials yesterday urged visitors to leave the British overseas territory if they have the means to do so safely, as the island awaits the passage of Hurricane Matthew later this week.


In a statement, the Department of Tourism said that visitors unable to leave or opting to remain within the destination are urged to stay inside during the storm.


"Emergency officials are also preparing to respond to severe flooding, as Hurricane Matthew is expected to produce two to five inches of rainfall, with isolated maximum amounts of eight inches over the Turks and Caicos Islands.


"Numerous hotels throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands are built to safely accommodate people during the event of a hurricane. The main goal is to keep everyone safe. Visitors are reminded that the safest place to be during the storm is inside," the stament said.


The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) said that Matthew, which was yesterday morning located 205 miles south-east of Kingston, Jamaica, and 275 miles south-west of Port-au-Prince in Haiti, was packing winds of 140 miles per hour (mph) and should begin affecting the TCI by today.


A hurricane warning is in effect for Jamaica, Haiti; Cuban provinces of Guantanamo, Santiago de Cuba, Holguin, Granma, and Las Tunas; south-eastern Bahamas, including the Inaguas, Mayaguana, Acklins, Crooked Island, Long Cay, and Ragged Island.


A hurricane watch was, meanwhile, in effect for the Cuban province of Camaguey and the Turks and Caicos Islands.


"Matthew is moving toward the north near six mph and this general motion is forecast to continue through Wednesday, with an increase in forward speed expected tonight.


"On the forecast track, the centre of Matthew was expected to approach south-western Haiti tonight, move near eastern Cuba late today, and move near or over portions of the south-eastern and central Bahamas Tuesday night and Wednesday."


The NHC said that while there may be some fluctuations in wind speed, Matthew is expected to remain a powerful hurricane through tomorrow.


TCI tourism officials said that "there is ample time for visitors to leave the Turks and Caicos Islands in a calm and orderly manner.


"Immigration services will remain in place at the Providenciales International Airport to ensure that flights are allowed to travel to and from the islands until a decision are taken to close the airports throughout the Turks and Caicos Islands.


"The premier of the Turks and Caicos Islands has requested all essential services to remain in place throughout the storm. In the event of an emergency, visitors are asked to follow management’s protocol at their respective resort or call 911," the statement added.

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