Hurricane Paloma: Some damage to Cuba, clear for the Caymans

People stand on the ruins of their houses destroyed by Tropical Storm Paloma in Santa Cruz del Sur Camaguey, Cuba November 9, 2008. Xinhua/Reuters Photo

People stand on the ruins of their houses destroyed by Paloma in Santa Cruz del Sur Camaguey, Cuba November 9, 2008. Xinhua/Reuters Photo

As Hurricane Paloma passed the Cayman Islands Saturday, the “all clear” for the Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman was issued. In the wake of Paloma, Grand Cayman returned to business as usual yesterday. Owen Roberts International Airport re-opened Nov. 8 for all inbound and outbound flights. Hotels on the island are currently accepting reservations and new guests.

“It is essentially business as usual in Grand Cayman and we look forward to once again welcoming visitors to our idyllic island destination,” said tourism minister Charles E. Clifford. “Damage assessment continues in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. Our first priority is to provide for the safety and basic needs of our fellow citizens on the Sister Islands.” He added, “while Paloma passed 30 miles away from Grand Cayman, sparing us, it strengthened considerably before it hit the Sister Islands.”

Cuba wasn’t quite that lucky. Although Paloma had weakened from a Category 3 storm to a tropical depression while moving across eastern Cuba’s Camaguey province,┬áit roared over Cuba Saturday night with strong winds exceeding 240 kph.

Local media reported Sunday that the hurricane had caused “considerable damages in Camaguey as well as in the nearby territories of Tunas and Ciego de Avila.” Hundreds of thousands of people had been evacuated before Paloma made landfall in Cuba. No deaths or major injuries have been reported so far.

Cuba has been battered by successive hurricanes in recent months, as Gustav and Ike damaged nearly 440,000 homes and forced almost two million people into temporary shelters. Paloma was the eighth hurricane of a busy Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends Nov. 30.

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