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Waves brought by Hurricane Sandy crash on a house in the Caribbean Terrace neighborhood in eastern Kingston, Jamaica, on Wednesday.
Collin Reid/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 10/25/2012
KINGSTON, Jamaica--Hurricane Sandy's howling winds and rains lashed precarious shantytowns, stranded travelers and caused rivers to rise dangerously Wednesday as it roared across eastern Jamaica on a course that would take it on to Cuba and then possibly threaten Florida.
At least one person was killed in nearby Haiti after being swept away by a rushing river.
In some southern towns on Jamaica, several crocodiles were caught in rushing floodwaters that carried them out of their homes in mangrove thickets. One big croc took up temporary residence in a family's front yard in the city of Portmore.
It was the first direct hit by the eye of a hurricane on Jamaica since Hurricane Gilbert almost a quarter century ago, and fearful authorities closed the island's international airports and police ordered 48-hour curfews in major towns to keep people off the streets and deter looting. Cruise ships changed their itineraries to avoid the storm, which made landfall five miles east of the capital, Kingston.
Flash floods and mudslides were a threat for this debt-shackled tropical island of roughly 2.7 million inhabitants, which has a crumbling infrastructure and sprawling shantytowns built on steep embankments and in gullies.
In the hilly community of Kintyre, on the outskirts of Kingston, Sharon Gayle and a few of her neighbors expected to completely lose the town's bridge over the Hope River, which washed away a section of the span just three weeks ago during a heavy downpour. The shell of a concrete home that collapsed into the river and killed two people several years ago still lies toppled on the sandy banks.
"We've gotten cut off here a whole heap of times. But with a big nasty hurricane on the way, I'm really nervous. We're trying not to show it in front of the children though," the mother of three said, huddling under a sopping white towel as she stared at the rising river.
The 18th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season was expected to pass over eastern Cuba early today, missing the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, where pretrial hearings were being held for a suspect in the deadly 2000 attack on the destroyer USS Cole off Yemen.
Forecasters at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said tropical storm conditions were possible along the southeastern Florida coast, the Upper Keys and Florida Bay by Friday morning. A tropical storm watch was in effect for the area, the center said.