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Gustav batters Brac, LC


By James Dimond,

Friday 29th August, 2008   Posted: 20:33 CIT   (01:33 +1 GMT)

Hurricane Gustav downed power lines and trees on Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, leaving both islands without electricity as the storm passed over the Sister Islands early Friday evening.

Officials said they had received no reports of injuries as of early Friday evening.

Just under 400 residents were in shelters on the Brac while only 13 people were at the hurricane shelter on Little Cayman.

"We have very gusty winds – hurricane force winds – which we expect will continue until at least another hour or so," said Deputy District Commissioner Mark Tibbetts just after 7pm.

Hurricane Hunter Aircraft flying over the storm said winds had increased to 80 miles per hour with stronger gusts making Gustav a category–one hurricane after passing through Jamaica as a tropical storm.

The centre of Hurricane Gustav was 25 miles south of the Sister Islands and about 90 miles east of Grand Cayman at 7pm.

"We have received reports of the poles being down and of trees being down," Mr. Tibbetts said. "There are trees down along the road in different areas. I don’t think there is any one particular area that is inaccessible because of trees being down, but some vehicles have had some difficulty passing in some areas,"

Mr. Tibbetts was among over 250 people sheltering at the Aston Rutty Centre, where he said the mood was upbeat.

"People are watching TV, listening to music, talking, socialising, listening to the radio, playing card games and dominoes and some are monitoring the internet with wireless internet, so spirits are high."

While Mr. Tibbetts expected hurricane force winds to clear by 9pm, he anticipated tropical storm force winds to continue into the early morning.

It was unclear how many residents on the Brac took shelter from Gustav in caves, although the deputy district commissioner conceded there was little authorities could do to entice them to the island’s hurricane shelters.

"I don’t think there is anything we can do or say to stop that," Mr. Tibbetts noted. "Its a centuries old tradition."

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