By Michael L. Jarvis, London UK
Jamaica is cleaning up after being pounded for hours on end by tropical storm Grace after the storm swept across the island with strong winds and almost incessant rainfall.
Flooded rivers, streams and roads cut off access to several areas. The storm made landfall in St Catherine with the spread of the system causing severe disruptions in the capital Kingston in the nearby parish of St Andrew and other areas as it moved across the island.
Grace drenched Jamaica with over six inches of almost non-stop rainfall putting the country’s drainage system under severe stress resulting in many residential and business areas experiencing severe flooding.
However, Jamaica is said to have escaped the full brunt of the storm. But while there were no immediate reports of loss of life or serious injuries, parts of the country’s agriculture sector are reported to have sustained substantial losses.
Property damage in some areas is reported to be extensive with water damage being the biggest challenge facing residents as they set about returning to normal one day after the storm passed through.
Restoring power and communication outages, clearing blocked drains and roads rendered impassable by fallen trees and other debris, were among the priorities facing Jamaica's disaster response agencies.
The general feeling coming out of the country by Wednesday morning is that ‘it could have been worse’.
Early damage estimates indicate that the costs associated with Grace, especially from flooding, could exceed that caused by the previous storm this season, Elsa, which left behind a bill of over JA$800 million.
Grace is continuing on a westward track across the Caribbean Sea sweeping by the Cayman Islands. It’s expected to be at hurricane strength by the time it reaches Mexico's Yucatan peninsula on Thursday.
The current windspeed is 50 mph with higher gusts.