What figures to be a lengthy cleanup process began along the United States eastern seaboard on Tuesday morning, just hours after Hurricane Sandy slammed into the nation’s most densely populated areas and wreaked havoc.
Sandy featured sustained winds as high as 80 miles per hour and higher-than-expected storm surges that led to major flooding in New York City and elsewhere. The massive storm is responsible for 16 American deaths, as well as extensive property damages in the billions and the loss of power to millions of others.
The storm has moved on, but it’s impact both in the U.S. and in the Caribbean nations it ravaged in the days prior to heading north is sure to be felt for some time to come.
Haiti is the most impoverished nation in the Western Hemisphere, but will have to somehow make do following extensive storm damage to crops throughout the southern third of the country. The threat of a cholera outbreak or other water-borne diseases will remain high for weeks in Sandy’s aftermath, meaning the storm’s death toll could rise higher still.
Haiti reported the most storm-related deaths in the Caribbean, with 52 lives lost to the swollen rivers and landslides that followed three consecutive days of rain, according to the country’s Civil Protection Office.
Haitian President Michel Martelly also was on the streets of his devastated country over the weekend, personally handing out aid kits.
Officials in Jamaica were keeping a close eye on Sandy’s destruction of the U.S. northeast corridor on Monday evening because individuals from such places as New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. account for 40 percent of Jamaica’s tourism industry.
“It is a situation that we are watching very closely, already some of our members are reporting that guests have not been able to travel to Jamaica,” president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Evelyn Smith, told The Gleaner on Monday.
The JHTA president noted that it was way too early to say how the conditions would affect the upcoming winter tourist season.
From as early as Sunday afternoon, flights from New York to Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean were being cancelled as airlines such as JetBlue and Caribbean Airlines moved their aircraft to safer ground.
In the meantime, the JHTA president said her thoughts and prayers went out to the many persons in the Northeast who were feeling the effects of Hurricane Sandy.
“Many of these people have been guests of ours,” she said.