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Businesses at a standstill - Normal activities cease as employers respond to threat of disaster
published: Thursday | August 12, 2004

By Damion Mitchell, Staff Reporter

STORES ACROSS Kingston and St. Andrew drew down their shutters yesterday as the threat of Hurricane Charley drew near.

In New Kingston, hundreds of vehicles clogged Trafalgar Road as motorists sought to return home after a shortened work day. There were few businesses open and not very many customers.

At the Norman Manley International Airport, there was a smattering of disgruntled travellers angry that they had not been informed that flights would be cancelled. They apparently failed to hear the announcements broadcast in the electronic media.

TRAVELLERS UPSET

"I wanna go to Miami," bellowed young Victor Hudson, a traveller from the city in Florida, United States. Victor, an older companion had "braved the rains" from St. Thomas and was upset that Air Jamaica's departure lounge was closed, apparently with no one there to at least apologise for the cancellations.

The expected hurricane also put a stop to activities in the fishing town of Port Royal. When The Gleaner visited the township yesterday morning, several fishing boats were seen drawn up to shore, and there were no fishermen in sight.

In sections of Portmore between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. yesterday, several businesses were in the process of being closed while scores of shoppers hustled to supermarkets to purchase food items.

There were still long lines of shoppers at the cashiers at the SuperPlus Super-market in the Portmore Pines Plaza up to 20 minutes after midday when it closed its doors, while dozens of other persons stood anxiously at the entrance of the building beseeching that the security guard posted there allow them do their shopping before the supermarket was locked.

WATER AND ELECTRICITY

At the same time, several residents of communities in Greater Portmore reported that they were without water and electricity for some time yesterday afternoon. The Jamaica Public Service Company later advised that a utility pole was broken at Naggo Head, resulting in a break in electricity supply. The situation was aggravated, JPS said, when lightning knocked out the power supply.

And yesterday, staff members at the Ministry of Agriculture's Fisheries Division on Marcus Garvey Drive in South West St. Andrew, spent their usually early business hours yesterday securing equipment and other necessary machinery on an upper floor in case of flooding.

Last month, several offices at the Division were flooded during heavy rains, when a gully loaded with debris, which runs adjacent to the facility overflowed.

Adriana Johnson, administrator at the Division, told The Gleaner that since last month's flooding, all the drains on the compound of the Division were cleaned, but the gully, which is the responsibility of the Kingston and St. Andrew Corpora-tion, has still not been addressed.

"I am fearful that if the rain falls heavily we are going to be flooded again," she said.

Up to early last night, the light rainfall in the Corporate Area did not cause any disruption to drainage systems and gullies. However, it was evident that the gullies were still in dire need of cleaning, as the waters that rushed through the Sandy Gully appeared to be a transportation system for debris and garbage.

The empty plastic bottles and other objects floating on top of and beneath the muddy waters in the gullies were the major threats to motorists who made there way through some of the fordings.

(With contribution from Robert Hart and Tyrone Reid)

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