Hurricane Dean hurtled toward Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, where it
could make landfall as a Category 5 storm between the northern tip
of Belize and the resort areas of Cancun and Cozumel sometime late
Tuesday, the Cayman Islands heaved a sigh of relief.
Hurricane Dean, a
Category 5 storm Monday night with winds near 160 mph, passed 100
miles south of the Cayman Islands Monday morning after battering
the south coast of Jamaica throughout the day on Sunday.
That slight wobble
south in the projected path spared the Cayman Islands the major
devastation and damage inflicted by Hurricane Ivan in 2004,
although Grand Cayman experienced high winds and rough seas for
More than 2,200
people were housed in 19 shelters during the storm's
A statement issued
by Cayman Islands Gov. Stuart Jack expressed the relief felt by
most residents when he said that the territory "has been spared the
brunt of Hurricane Dean."
The Royal Cayman
Islands Police Service had lifted the curfew on Grand Cayman,
Little Cayman and Cayman Brac by mid-afternoon on Monday; the
curfew had gone into effect at 10 p.m. on Sunday for all three
areas on Grand Cayman had some flooding and significant debris
buildup on the roads; wave action of 12 to 16 feet was expected to
continue through Monday evening.
Downed power lines
blocked some roads in George Town and near Seven Mile Beach as well
as in the West Bay and Prospect areas. According to the Caribbean
Utilities Co., full power was
expected to be restored within 24 to 36 hours.
Jamaica, Sangster Airport in Montego Bay reopened Monday afternoon
while the roadway leading Norman Manley Airport in Kingston was
being cleared, the airport remained closed.
Air Jamaica planned
to resume scheduled flights to Montego Bay Monday
An estimated 14,000
visitors remained on island during Dean, either because they could
not get flights out before the storm or they opted to ride out the
storm. Island officials said more than 5,000 residents sought
shelter in 231 designated locations.
director of the Jamaica Tourist Board, said that "recovery teams
are on the ground surveying damage. Initial reports show that we
fared reasonably well. The majority of damage suffered was to
landscaping and utility poles."
Smith also reported
that "damage to hotels is limited and, in general, the hotel sector
is in good shape."
Confirming this was
a report by Gordon "Butch" Stewart, founder and chairman of Sandals
& Beaches Resorts, that all seven of the Sandals properties and
three of the Beaches properties in Jamaica reported no structural
"Our resorts have
weathered the storm. The resorts never lost power, guests are
comfortable and debris cleanup has begun," Stewart said.
Likewise, on St.
Lucia, where hurricane Dean passed north of the island on Friday as
a Category 2 storm, Sandals' three resorts there were open and
Stewart said that
Sandals and Beaches enacted their Blue Chip Hurricane Guarantee
whereby every guest staying at the three locations in St. Lucia and
the 10 resorts in Jamaica will receive a free replacement trip in
return. In addition, Stewart extended a complimentary night for
guests who could not depart their resorts in Jamaica due to
cancelled flights on Sunday and Monday.
Vanderpool-Wallace, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism
Organization and joint CEO of the Caribbean Tourism Development Co.
(CTDC), praised the preparedness of the islands in the region who
faced the Category 4 Hurricane Dean head on. At the same time, he
expressed concern for Mexico and the U.S. Gulf region, where Dean
was next headed.
"We offer our
sympathies for those adversely impacted by the storm,"
Vanderpool-Wallace said. "One thing that stood out, however, was
the overall level of preparedness the region showed as the storm
approached, as well as the response from the island
He said that the
region is far better prepared than in years past. "We appreciate
the cooperation of our guests as well as our hotel, airline and
travel trade partners in helping weather this situation and make
what appears will be a strong and quick recovery."
director general and CEO of the Caribbean Hotel Association and
joint CEO of the CTDC, noted that the hotel sectors on the few
islands that were impacted "withstood the storm and are planning a
quick return to normal operations."
From the hotel sector
Damage reports from
" All Couples Resorts, Sunset
Resorts; and Island Outpost properties in Jamaica reported no
" Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios,
Jamaica, lost power temporarily; guests were given the opportunity
to revise their reservations.
" Jamaica Inn and Round Hill had
some fallen trees but no structural damage.
" Hilton Hotel in Kingston did not
sustain major damage and remains open and operational.
" Half Moon Hotel experienced only
minimal effects from the storm; its emergency management crew is
removing debris, the resort is operational and guests were to be
moved back into their rooms Monday afternoon.
As Dean passed,
guests and employees were sheltered at Half Moon's
6,000-square-foot conference center to wait out the storm. Richard
Whitfield, managing director, said the resort "was well prepared
with our emergency management procedures and were in full gear to
secure lives and property."
" Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort Montego Bay will open for new
arrivals Tuesday morning. The property experienced minor beach
erosion and debris buildup.
Tryall Club in Montego Bay will reopen to guests next weekend and
is working on debris removal and landscaping restoration in the
storm's aftermath. The resort's 150 guests were evacuated Saturday
with the exception of a few guests who voluntarily opted to ride
out the storm.
A core team of 40
staff and the few remaining guests spent the night hunkered down in
the underground concrete basement of the 19th century Georgian
Great House, which was left undamaged. Also in the bunker-like
structure was the crew from The Weather Channel, who reported live
from the resort all weekend.
Jamaica Tourist Board said the following parishes were
St. Andrew (east,
including Kingston) had tree and sign damage, downed light poles,
roof damage, road erosion in Helshire but no serious hotel damage
had yet been reported;
St. Ann (central
north, including Ocho Rios) experienced very little rain, but winds
damaged roads the substantially;
St. James (west,
including Montego Bay) had little rain but some wind
had minimal damage.
One of the
hardest-hit parishes appears to be St. Thomas in the southeast
which reported severe wind damage to roofs and landscapes, many
blocked roads and the loss of power and communication.
contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].
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