PM cuts short official visit to Canada as Sandy bears down on Jamaica
KINGSTON, Jamaica, Oct 24, CMC – A strengthening Tropical Storm Sandy is moving “ a little faster” towards Jamaica as the island braced for its full impact later on Wednesday.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has cut short her official visit to Canada and returned here late on Tuesday night. She immediately urged all citizens, particularly those in the Pedro Cays, to take the storm seriously and prepare for its passage.
“If you are still on the cays, please leave.We will accept no responsibility if people ignore the warnings and the appeal for persons to get off the cays,” she said.
The Miami-based National Hurricane Centre (NHC) said that the 18th named storm of the 2012 Atlantic Season was located 120 miles south of Kingston, the capital and packing winds of 70 miles per hour (mph).
In its 5.00 am (local time) bulletin, the NHC said that the center of the storm was located near latitude 16.3 north, longitude 77 west and is moving towards the north near 14 mph.
“This general motion is expected to continue through Thursday accompanied by a gradual increase in forward speed. On the forecast track, the center of Sandy is expected to move across Jamaica by late this afternoon and evening.”
NHC said that the storm will then move near or over Eastern Cuba late Wednesday or early Thursday and approach the Central Bahamas on Thursday.
It said additional strengthening is expected during the next 48 hours and “Sandy is expected to become a hurricane by the time it reaches Jamaica and Cuba” and will produce total rainfall amounts of six to 12 inches across Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican republic and Eastern Cuba.
The authorities have already announced several measures aimed at mitigating death and destruction and businesses, schools, and the airports have closed.
In addition, the Ministry of National Security has issued curfew orders for select areas and Finance Minister Dr. Peter Phillips told Parliament that “only emergency personnel will be allowed movement during the period of the curfews”.
The Jamaica Public Service Company Limited (JPS) said it has already activated its emergency operations and reminded consumers to unplug their electrical appliances if their supply is affected.
Director General of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Ronald Jackson, has warned of flooding and is urging people in low-lying areas to take all precautionary measures.