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T&T’s Mona students safe as Sandy rages
A roof from one of the buildings at the Mona Campus of University of the West Indies was reportedly blown off but all 350 Trinidadian students studying there were safe, T&T High Commissioner to Jamaica Dr Iva Gloudon said as Hurricane Sandy pounded Jamaica yesterday, packing winds in excess of 130 kms an hour.
The category one hurricane made landfall on the south eastern coast of the island, five miles east of Kingston at 2 pm. Speaking to the T&T Guardian at her Kingston residence around 6.30 pm while Hurricane Sandy raged, Gloudon said: “We have been keeping in touch with the students at the campus and have made arrangements for them to stay indoors. They are pretty safe. They have a generator on standby and supplies.”
Gloudon said there are 500 Trinidadian nationals living in Jamaica who have formed themselves into an association. “I haven’t heard anything yet but I have their contact information and have to get in touch with them as soon as I can,” she added.
Last weekend Gloudon was in T&T to collect an award from the Commonwealth Sports Foundation at the Hyatt Regency, Port-of-Spain. Describing the experience of being in the midst of a hurricane, she said: “It’s raging out there. We are in the middle of it right now. Electrical power is out. Everything is under lockdown. We are getting no news. All we are seeing is a lot of powerful winds and rain.
“It’s an experience,” Rev Gloudon added, noting her prayers are helping her through the storm. Trinidadian student Avis Holder, of Maloney, who is in Jamaica said on a TV 6 interview last night: “We are safe right now. It’s scary. It’s been seven hours of high winds since this morning. We didn’t know what was going to come next.” She said power was out at the campus.
Wynell Gregorio, Acting Director of Marketing and Communications at The UWI St Augustine campus, said she got an e-mail from Jamaica stating the safety officer at Mona had advised all regional and international students to stay in their halls, which were deemed safe places. “We haven’t heard any reports of anything happening,” she said.
One unconfirmed death was reported to the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management in Jamaica. A woman was washed away by a swollen river in Haiti which also was lashed by heavy rains and winds. Seventy per cent of the Jamaica was without of electricity last night and several areas were placed under curfew.
“We have reports of one death but we are waiting to confirm it,” an ODPM official in Jamaica told the T&T Guardian. As Hurricane Sandy made its way across Jamaica, the National Meteorological Centre at the Norman Manley International Airport reported the eye of Sandy was moving towards the north of the island and that general motion was expected to continue into today with a slight increase in forward speed.
The ODPM reported that 1,056 adults and 213 children were housed in 67 shelters across the island. Bulletins were issued asking the public to avoid certain areas that were inundated from hurricane surges and blocked by downed power lines. International and domestic airports will remain closed until today, the ODPM said. All CAL flights to and from Kingston were cancelled on Tuesday and yesterday.
Mandatory evacuation orders and shelter listings were issued for coastal and low-lying areas and schools, government ministries and businesses were closed. Online, Jamaican residents tweeted photographs of houses with roofs blown off, crocodiles crawling through front yards and video footage of destruction left by the hurricane.
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