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Friday, August 29, 2008

Gustav Flies in with a Fury

Tropical Storm Gustav hit Jamaica with near hurricane-force winds on Thursday after killing at least 59 people elsewhere in the Caribbean, and was on a path to reach New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico oil fields as potentially a powerful hurricane.

Jamaican, authorities urged people in rural areas to find shelter while businesses remained open Thursday in Kingston.

Ronald Jackson of Jamaica's Office of Disaster Preparedness (ODPEM) told CTV Newsnet on Thursday that they've begun the process of evacuating parts of the southern and northern coasts of the island, but have not forced residents to leave their homes.

Jackson said they have seen a steady flow of people in the 34 shelters they have opened; five of which are now occupied.

This satellite image shows Tropical Storm Gustav over the Caribbean on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2008. (AP / NOAA)

Rooftops flew off houses in isolated areas and a 50-year-old man fell to his death after a strong gust of wind blew him out of the tree where he was picking breadfruit as the storm closed in on Jamaica's central Manchester parish.

Gustav is the first serious Atlantic storm since the 2005 hurricane season to threaten New Orleans and the 4,000 US energy platforms in the Gulf.

Katrina and Rita destroyed 124 platforms and severed pipelines when they swept through the Gulf of Mexico as Category 5 storms. Katrina came ashore near New Orleans on 29 August, 2005, as a Category 3 hurricane and flooded the city. It killed 1,500 people along the Gulf Coast.

Hundreds of residents of Manchioneal, Long Bay and Black Rock were left homeless as Gustav ravaged the areas.

The roadway along the Long Bay main road, which leads into Manchioneal, was left impassable by sand, fallen tree limbs and other debris.

Councilor for the Manchioneal division, Alston Hunter, told The Gleaner that dozens of houses in Kensington and Long Road lost their roofs while some houses were demolished or flooded.

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