Hurricane Sandy raged through the Bahamas yesterday after leaving 21 people dead across the Caribbean, following a path that could see it blend with a winter storm and reach the US east coast as a super-storm next week.
Sandy knocked out power, flooded roads and cut off islands in the storm-hardened Bahamas as it swirled past Cat Island and Eleuthera, but authorities reported no deaths in the scattered archipelago.
Sandy, which weakened to a category 1 hurricane on Thursday night, caused havoc in Cuba early in the day, killing 11 people in eastern Santiago and Guantanamo provinces as its howling winds and rain toppled houses and ripped off roofs.
Authorities said it was Cuba’s deadliest storm since July 2005, when category 5 Hurricane Dennis killed 16 people and caused US$2.4 billion in damage.
Sandy also killed one person while crossing Jamaica on Wednesday and 10 people in Haiti, where heavy rains from the storm’s outer bands caused flooding in the impoverished and deforested country.
In the Bahamas, power was out on Acklins Island and most roads there were flooded, government administrator Berkeley Williams said.
Hurricane Sandy was expected to churn through the central and northwest Bahamas by yesterday afternoon and then head northward off the US coast.
With storm conditions projected to hit New Jersey with tropical storm-force winds on Tuesday, there was a 90 percent chance that most of the US east coast would get steady gale-force winds, flooding, heavy rain and maybe snow starting on Sunday and stretching past Wednesday, US forecaster Jim Cisco said.
In an announcement at the end of Cuba’s newscast on Thursday night, Cuban authorities said the island’s 11 dead included a 4-month-old boy who was crushed when his home collapsed and an 84-year-old man in Santiago Province.
Santiago, Cuba’s second largest city near the eastern tip of the island, was spared the worst of the storm, which also slammed the provinces of Granma, Holguin and Las Tunas.
In Haiti, a spokesman for the civil protection office, Joseph Edgard Celestin, said the country’s death toll currently stood at nine, including three people who died while attempting to cross storm-swollen rivers in southwestern Haiti.
Officials reported flooding across Haiti, where many of the 370,000 people still displaced by the devastating 2010 earthquake scrambled for shelter.