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5am update: Storm causes damage, slams Sister Islands

 

By Brent Fuller, brent@cfp.ky

Saturday 8th November, 2008   Posted: 09:44 CIT   (14:44 GMT)

Early reports from Grand Cayman this morning were that a now monstrous Category 3 Hurricane Paloma had caused some damage and flooding along the eastern and southern coasts of the island.

George Town

More people walking and biking through the flood waters on anthony street. Photo: Brent Fuller

But the damage was generally not thought to be severe, and government officials said storm shelters would be closed and the all clear given by 7am.

But, for the Sister Islands the worst was yet to come.

At 5am, government officials said the eye of the hurricane was now over Little Cayman. Residents of the tiny island were urged not to go outdoors during the 30–60 minute lull period which began around 5am

Paloma strengthened even further overnight to produce maximum sustained winds of 125mph. The storm continued to crawl along at some 7mph in the early morning hours just southwest of Little Cayman.

It was positioned about 75 miles east of Grand Cayman at 4am.

The storm could strengthen even further this morning before it begins to weaken later in the day and on Sunday.

The British ship RFA Waveruler was being sent to the Sister Islands to provide humanitarian assistance on the orders of Governor Stuart Jack.

The Sister Islands were put in the direct path of Paloma after the storm began shifting to the northeast Friday afternoon. The storm’s track changed from an expected direct hit on the south and western coasts of Grand Cayman and instead ended up going around the eastern coast overnight.

There were several reports of downed power lines on the main island, including one that caught a tree on fire near the police emergency command centre. Downed tree limbs and other storm debris were reported all over the island.

Power was out to a significant portion of the Cayman Islands during the overnight period.

Some George Town streets were flooded, but the major roads were said to be passable by early morning. However, Grand Cayman residents were urged to stay indoors until 7am.

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