Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Hurricane Dean heads for Mexico

Hurricane Dean skirted the Cayman Islands on Monday and raced toward Mexico’s resort-dotted Caribbean coast, where tens of thousands of tourists fled what could become a mammoth category-five storm.

The airport at Mexico’s biggest resort, Cancun, was packed with departing tourists on Monday and the usually crowded hotel strip was nearly empty. Mexico’s state oil company evacuated workers from rigs in the oil-rich Gulf of Campeche, in the storm’s path.

But there was relief in the Cayman Islands. The government announced the territory had been ”spared the brunt of Hurricane Dean”.

Hours earlier, it looked like disaster was descending on the islands as the category-four storm with winds of 240km/h bore down late on Sunday after battering Jamaica.

”Whichever God you believe in, now is the time to bow your head and pray to him,” evacuation-shelter coordinator Zemrie Thompson told 100 people camped for safety on Sunday night at John Gray High School.

Dean’s eye passed about 160km south of the Caymans and the government said the strongest gusts here were measured at 92km/h.

The storm has killed at least eight people across the Caribbean.

The hurricane could reach the highest level, category five, with maximum winds greater than 249km/h later on Monday, the United States National Hurricane Centre in Miami said.

Stuart Jack, Governor of the British territory, said Cayman Islands authorities had evacuated all but 1 500 tourists and set up 19 storm shelters that housed about 2 200 people.

Jamaica spared

Jamaica avoided a direct hit when the storm passed to the south on Sunday night. There were no deaths reported in Jamaica, but the storm uprooted trees, flooded roads and tore the roofs off many homes, businesses and a prison block. No prisoners escaped.

Police said officers got into a shootout with looters at a shopping centre in the central parish of Clarendon, but nobody was hurt. Curfews were in effect until Monday evening. Authorities also cut power on the island to prevent damage to the power grid, leaving more than 125 000 customers without power.

By noon GMT on Monday, Dean was centred about 710km east of Belize City and travelling west at about 33km/h, the US National Hurricane Centre said.

Many tourists who did not get flights out took shelter at places like Sandals Whitehouse, a resort that has buildings capable of withstanding a powerful storm.

Trinice Tyler, a postal worker from Lake Elsinore, California, said she would weather the storm there ”on my knees praying”.

”I’m celebrating my 40th birthday today, and it’s going to be a birthday to remember,” she said.

Fishermen hauled their skiffs inland and cruise ships changed their course to avoid the storm on Sunday.

The National Hurricane Centre said the first hurricane of the Atlantic season was projected to have sustained winds of 260km/h before plowing into Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Tuesday. The Mexican mainland or Texas could be hit later. There was also a hurricane warning in effect for Belize’s coast.

Among those fleeing Cancun was Florida Volynskaya (24), of Baltimore, Maryland, who camped out on the airport terminal’s floor awaiting a flight. ”We just wanted to get out anywhere,” she said. ”We really didn’t want to be in a shelter.”

Twelve empty planes arrived on Sunday to move travellers out, said airport spokesperson Eduardo Rivadeneira. The state government also set up 530 shelters with a capacity of 73 000 people.

The hurricane created massive waves and surges up to 6m high as it passed the Dominican Republic on Saturday, flooding roads and drowning a boy. At least two people were killed and about 150 homes were destroyed in Haiti, emergency officials said. — Sapa-AP

Subscribe for R500/year

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them and get a 57% discount in your first year.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

The South African Bone Marrow Registry celebrates 30 years of...

‘It’s not drilling into bones!’: Misconceptions keep donors away, says SABMR, but a match outside of a patient’s family is a needle in a haystack

R500-million Covid-19 Gauteng hospital contract was irregularly awarded — SIU

The bank accounts of Pro Service Consulting and Thenga Holdings have been frozen

More top stories

With its industrial base decimated, SA’s economy needs real change...

Speaking at a book launch on Tuesday, the finance minister said a focus on manufacturing is critical to stem the country’s deepening unemployment crisis

Defence team cagey about Zuma’s health after state advised he...

The former president was absent from court, but his counsel argued that health matters be left aside, so as to hear his case for the removal of Billy Downer

The South African Bone Marrow Registry celebrates 30 years of...

‘It’s not drilling into bones!’: Misconceptions keep donors away, says SABMR, but a match outside of a patient’s family is a needle in a haystack

New clean fuel standards could be the end of refineries...

In the absence of mechanisms to recoup investment into cleaner fuels, refineries may be faced with tough decisions
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×