KINGSTON, JAMAICA — Jamaicans on Tuesday stocked up on supplies and reinforced roofs ahead of the arrival of Tropical Storm Sandy, which is expected to hit the island of posh resorts and sprawling shantytowns as a hurricane with lashing rain and wind.
The U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said the strengthening Sandy was churning over warm Caribbean waters and should reach Jamaica on Wednesday. The late season storm is expected to travel from south to north over the Caribbean country, which hasn’t sustained a direct hit from a hurricane’s eye since powerful Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. Hurricane conditions were possible in eastern Cuba by Wednesday night.
On Tuesday, the outer bands of the approaching storm were already drenching parts of Jamaica with intermittent downpours that sent brown water rushing down streets and gullies. Tropical storm winds and sustained rains were expected in the evening.
In the poor Kingston community of Standpipe, Christopher “Boxer” Bryce and his relatives were bracing for the worst as they quickly tried to finish repairs to their concrete home’s leaking roof.
“This is giving all of us a nervous feeling, old and young. I’m hoping the storm doesn’t leave too many problems,” said Bryce, as his brother Brian adjusted a plastic bucket to catch more of the water dripping steadily down from the cracked ceiling.
Across a debris-clogged gully, dreadlocked Philip Salmon was trying to find more sheet metal to bolster his shack’s rusting roof. The laborer lives by himself in a ramshackle settlement of illegal homes just below the U.S. Embassy.
“Everybody’s worried about it here, I can tell you. This storm is no small thing,” said Salmon, whose sheet metal roof is held in place by rocks, just like that of many of his neighbors.
People living in the shantytowns are warned repeatedly to move for their own safety but most refuse to relocate.