Hurricane Dean weakened to a tropical storm
Wednesday after it moved inland over the mountains of central
Mexico, where forecasters expected it to finally dissipate.
Although a weakened
remnant of what it had once been when it roared through the
Caribbean and the Yucatan over the past several days, Dean managed
to dump up to 10 inches of rain and cause some flash flooding and
mudslides along its route in its final hours.
As a storm, Dean
made it to the record books in memorable fashion: it was the first
hurricane of the 2007 Atlantic season; the first Category 5 storm
(winds above 156 mph) to make landfall since Hurricane Andrew
slammed south Florida in 1992, and the storm with the third lowest
barometric pressure readings since records started being kept
sometime in the 1930s.
Dean also caused
the postponement of the national elections in Jamaica, which had
been set for Aug. 27.
If tallies are kept
on the numbers of guests evacuated from hotels, the numbers of
extra flights and sections put on
by the carriers serving the affected regions of the Caribbean and
Mexico, and the thousands of plywood sections hammered over window
frames to protect from wind and rain, Dean probably entered the
record books in those areas as well.
adjustors will be busy in the days to come, as will hotel firms
with payouts from their hurricane guarantee programs, Dean
demonstrated that the region did heed warnings and activated
emergency plans, all the while mounting preparations on levels not
seen before in previous hurricane seasons.
Vanderpool-Wallace and Alec Sanguinetti, the joint CEOs of the
Caribbean Tourism Development Corp., acknowledged and recognized
the level of preparedness of the region and the response from
region is better prepared overall today than in years past. We
appreciate the cooperation of our guests and our industry partners
in helping weather this situation and make what appears to be a
strong and quick recovery," Vanderpool-Wallace said.
Some final thoughts
on the storm:
" Martinique's tourism industry
withstood the storm well. "Those of us in the tourism sector are
counting our blessings," said Muriel Wiltord, director U.S. and
Latin America for the Martinique Promotion Bureau/CMT
However, its banana
crop did not fare as well, and French Prime Minister Francois
Fillon was expected to visit both Martinique and Guadeloupe later
this week for a firsthand view of the damage to the islands'
Eric de Lucy,
president of the Banana Producers Union for Martinique and
Guadeloupe, estimated the cost of crop damage at $337 million in
Martinique and $202 million in Guadeloupe.
" Dominica's tourism infrastructure
escaped with only minor damage, according to the Dominica Tourist
Board, but its banana crop, which constitutes about 10% of the
island's gross domestic product, also was heavily
" Allen Chastanet, St. Lucia's
minister of tourism and civil aviation, began taking stock of the
island's hotel inventory even before the raindrops stopped last
Friday. His initial assessment of "minimal landscaping damage" bode
well for the region a whole.
" Frequent updates from the Jamaica
Tourist Board included specific roads in various parishes that were
blocked with debris. Also included were timelines from the electric
and power authorities regarding when power would be restored sector
The Cayman Islands Dept. of Tourism, still smarting from criticism
during Hurricane Ivan in 2004 that communication with the media had
been mishandled, had arranged a teleconference call for the media
with the governor, the head of the hurricane committee and the
leader of government business just hours before Dean was scheduled
to slam Grand Cayman.
assessment reports were quick to arrive from Belize, the Cancun and
Cozumel tourism representatives, the Mexico Tourist Office and
contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].
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