Hurricane builds in southeastern Caribbean

Friday, July 15, 2005

ST. GEORGE'S, Grenada -- Hurricane Emily grew even more powerful Thursday after slamming into Grenada, tearing up crops, flooding streets and striking at homes still under repair from last year's storms. At least one man was killed.

The storm strengthened to a dangerous Category 3 as it cleared the Windward Islands, unleashing heavy surf, gusty winds and torrential rains in places hundreds of miles away: Trinidad in the south, nearby Venezuela to the west and Do-minican Republic in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.

Venezuelan authorities temporarily ordered some oil tankers to stay in port in the key oil refining zone of Puerto la Cruz, port captain Jose Jimenez Quintero said.

The storm was packing sustained winds near 115 mph and moving west-northwest at around 21 mph. The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami predicted the second major hurricane of the Atlantic season would get even stronger.

Emily struck hard in Grenada, especially in the northern parishes of St. Patrick's and St. Andrew's and the outlying islands of Carriacou and Petit Martinique, authorities said.

The damage comes as the island nation is still recovering from last year's Hurricane Ivan, which destroyed thousands of residences and damaged 90 percent of the historic Georgian buildings in the capital.

"Just as we were trying to rebuild ... this is a very, very major setback," said Barry Colleymore, a spokesman for Prime Minister Keith Mitchell. "There's been lots of destruction."

A man in his 40s was killed when a landslide crushed his home in St. Andrew's, said Allen McGuire, Grenada's consul general in New York City.

In the capital, St. George's, winds blew out windows and caused flooding, Colleymore said. On Carriacou, the storm damaged the roof of the only hospital, forcing the evacuation of patients, officials said. Sixteen houses were destroyed and more than 200 were damaged, McGuire said.

Elsewhere in the country, two police stations and two homes for the elderly also lost their roofs, landslides and fallen trees blocked roads, streets were flooded and crops were destroyed.

Mitchell flew over the country to survey the destruction, Colleymore said.

In Trinidad, there was widespread flooding and at least one house washed away in the eastern community of Arima.

Jamaica was under a hurricane watch, while the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Venezuela posted tropical storm warnings as did the islands of Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba.

In Grenada, Mitchell had sought before the storm to reassure citizens that the government would not be caught off-guard -- as it was when Ivan killed 39 people and left a wasteland of ruined buildings in September.

At 8 p.m. EDT, Emily was centered about 445 miles southeast of the Dominican Republic capital, Santo Domingo, moving west-northwest near 20 mph. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 25 miles and tropical storm-force winds another 115 miles.

"We took this very, very seriously," said Colin Dowe, an assistant dean at the island's St. George's University, where dozens of students and faculty members waited out the storm. "Ivan was much stronger so the general feeling is that we can get through this."

At 8 p.m. EDT, Emily was centered about 445 miles southeast of the Dominican Republic capital, Santo Domingo, moving west-northwest near 20 mph. Hurricane-force winds extended up to 25 miles and tropical storm-force winds another 115 miles.

Emily trails Hurricane Dennis, which destroyed crops and killed at least 25 people in Haiti and 16 in Cuba last week, according to authorities in the two countries.


Associated Press Writer Jorge Rueda in Cumana, Venezuela contributed to this report.


On the Net:

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: