Work crews in soaked Jamaica cleared debris and downed power lines left in Hurricane Sandy’s wake while trying to restore electricity to more than half of the Caribbean country Thursday. Curfews were lifted and international airports reopened under cloudy skies, which unleashed occasional downpours. People in hard-hit shantytowns struggled to repair battered homes after sheet metal roofs blew off.
Authorities said Sandy didn’t cause as much damage as they initially feared when it crossed the island Wednesday as a Category 1 hurricane. Still, the full extent of damage was unknown in Jamaica, where some major roads were still impassable. It would likely be days before life in many residential areas returned to normal.
Sandy was blamed for the death of an elderly man in Jamaica who was crushed by a boulder. In Haiti, officials said there were nine deaths, including a man and two women who died while trying to cross storm-swollen rivers in southwestern Haiti.
In Jamaica, about 70 percent of the island lost power during the storm and many towns and cities were left without water service. Schools in the capital of Kingston and eastern parishes were closed until next week.
The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association said resorts in Montego Bay and Negril sustained no major damage. North coast cruise ship terminals reopened to vessels.
In the impoverished Kingston community of Maverley, Eliter Barkley swept up tree branches, leaves and pieces of metal roofing scattered outside the tiny rum bar where she and her relatives spent Wednesday night after Sandy destroyed their shack.
Barkley said she and her sister were trying to calm their terrified children when Sandy ripped most of the corrugated metal off their small home’s roof shortly after it made landfall with sustained winds of 80 mph (130 kph) about five miles east of Kingston. Minutes later, a tree fell on part of the house, sending the entire family screaming into the street.
“The front and the side got mashed up good. We just ran here in the storm all wet,” Barkley said outside the Uptown Inn bar, where about a dozen adults and children huddled together until morning.
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