MIAMI -- As Hurricane Dennis lumbered through the Caribbean on July 7, packing winds up to 115 mph -- a strong Category 3 storm -- islands in its projected path rushed to complete storm preparations.

Hurricane warnings were in effect for Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, southwestern Haiti and Cubas eastern provinces.

In Jamaica, Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay are currently closed.  

Air Jamaica, meanwhile, canceled all flights to and from Montego Bay and Kingston and eased ticket change restrictions for passengers affected by the storm. Passengers with confirmed reservations for travel slated to begin July 6 to 9 may defer their trips without penalty.

The carrier will issue travel vouchers equal to the total value of the original booking for flights to any Air Jamaica destinations. Vouchers may be redeemed for travel up to one year from date of voucher issue.

Passengers already in transit during the July 6 to 9 period may defer their return trips without penalty, although travel must be completed by July 13.

Half Moon resort in Montego Bay waived cancellation fees through July 10; guests will be able to reschedule their visit at the original rate booked up to Dec. 15 or between May and October 2006.

As soon as the storm was detected in our region, our emergency management team automatically mobilized to monitor developments and activate the necessary steps, said Richard Whitfield, managing director at Half Moon resort.

In the Cayman Islands, where damage from Hurricane Ivan is still evident [the category 5 storm struck there last September], residents were warned to complete storm preparations as soon as possible.

Cayman Airways canceled its daily flight from Grand Cayman to Kingston, Jamaica, and added extra sections to Miami to accommodate passengers from Americans canceled flight to and from Grand Cayman. The carrier waived ticket change penalties through July 10.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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