BY HORACE HINES AND KARLA JOSEPHS Observer West reporters MONTEGO BAY, St James
THE western end of Jamaica appears to have been spared the full wrath of Hurricane Sandy as it moved across the island yesterday.
Most of the shelters established in the region remained closed, and of the more that 60 opened in Westmoreland, only two welcomed residents in the parish, which seemingly was the least affected by the inclement weather.
According to mayor of Savanna-la-Mar Councillor Bertel Moore, nearly 40 persons were placed in the two shelters. He added however, that the residents were only there as a precautionary measure, noting that they all live in flood-prone areas.
"Most of the 60 shelters remained closed as there was no need for them to be opened," Moore told the Jamaica Observer.
He said the threat of flooding resulted in 29 persons from McNeil Land seeking accommodation at the shelter at Eldin Washington Centre in Bay Road; while nine from Strawberry were housed at a shelter in their community.
A similar scenario unfolded in Trelawny where about 40 residents, mostly elderly, from Hague View were evacuated to a shelter opened at Hague Primary School, while an undetermined number of residents from the flood-prone Zion community were housed at a shelter at Holland High School.
The Hague View residents, who were recently relocated from a section of Falmouth called Dump, feared that their mostly partially completed homes would not withstand the ferocious winds and heavy rains expected to accompany the hurricane.
Disaster co-ordinator for St James Parish Council, Tamoy Sinclair, noted that the 71 shelters in the parish remained scanty.
"We still have a total of 13 persons in the roughly 71 shelters provided. Things remain stable in the parish. I have only heard about light poles being down in Cornwall and on the Spring Mount main road. Other than that, things are quiet," she said.
In the neighbouring parish of Hanover, Mayor of Lucea Shernet Haughton reported that two shelters were opened in the parish.
"Cave Hill All-Age School and House of God Church have been open to the public and have approximately 23 persons occupying the spaces for precautionary reasons," said Haughton. "We have the Red Cross, the Ministry of Health and the National Works Agency here with us, and we continue to monitor the weather conditions and do everything in our power to keep our residents safe," she added.
Meanwhile, there were reports of power outages and fallen trees across the region. However, there were no reports of flooding and blocked roads.
The Area One Police maintained a strong presence across the four parishes as law enforcers were on the lookout, mostly for persons who were expected to use the disaster as an opportunity to loot.
Hurricane Sandy, a category one storm, was last night headed for eastern Cuba.