Hurricane Emily is second strike for Jamaica

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Monday, July 18, 2005

The outer bands of the Category 4 storm Hurricane Emily started to affect Jamaica shortly before 8:00am Saturday. Increasing winds and rain swept the island nation throughout the afternoon as the eye of the storm passed 100 miles off the southern coast. Utility poles were downed and storm debris closed the seaside highway to the international airport. Other roads were reported closed as well.

While islanders did not get through the two storms unscathed, and 4 people were left dead, the Land and Environment Minister Dean Peart told reporters, "Mercifully, Jamaica was spared the worst".

Buses were sent by officials to southern coastal areas to evacuate residents from the flood prone region, but most refused to leave and preferred to ride it out beside 8 foot waves that pounded areas of the coast line. Wind gusts of 155 mph doubled over palm trees in the capital city of Kingston.

At a southern penninsula seaside fishing villiage, Port Royal residents boarded up and prepared for the worst again, as surfers gathered nearby to take on the challenge of 15 to 18 foot waves. "If I'm going to die, it's going to be right here," said a local resident Gordon Murphy, 39, with his 2-year-old son. "What's next?" he joked, "[Hurricane] Franklin?"

Many shops and businesses stayed open as long as they could, classifying it as another inconvenience despite its near Category 5 strength. Instead of the possible disaster that many prepared for, by late afternoon, Emily had all but disappeared. Light scattered showers in some areas of the island were the only remnant, as residents went about their lives after the second hurricane scare in as many weeks.

Supplies that many stocked for Dennis and Emily may yet be put to use. Many wonder what storms are yet to come. Authorities say this will be one of the most active hurricane seasons in history. Emily was the strongest and earliest to form this year since records, dating back to 1860, have been kept.

Earlier, Emily stuck Grenada on Thursday with nearly a direct hit. A national disaster was called the day after its winds ravaged hundreds of homes and killed at least one man.

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