Paloma becomes Category 4 storm, heads toward Cuba

Natural Disasters Posted on

Paloma became an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane on Saturday and was threatening to strike hurricane-ravaged Cuba, after knocking out power across much of Grand Cayman Island.

The National Hurricane Center in Miami predicted Paloma will make landfall in Cuba as a major hurricane late Saturday or early Sunday with maximum sustained winds of at least 111 mph (178 kph).

Cayman Brac, to the east of Grand Cayman, was still experiencing hurricane force winds that blew roofs off some buildings, although there were no reports of casualties, said Donovan Ebanks, chairman of the Hazard Management Committee.

Cleva Jackson, a hotel owner on Grand Cayman, said she was still trying to get in touch with relatives in Cayman Brac who sought refuge in an emergency shelter where the roof partially collapsed.

"The roof had caved in and everyone was trying to find shelter in the kitchen, but I haven't heard anything from them," she said. "We just can't get through."

The late-season storm downed trees and flooded some low lying areas on Gran Cayman, but residents appeared to ride out the storm unscathed. Businesses reopened Saturday morning, and authorities were restoring power and water service.

"We have no reports of any injuries or casualties. Our indications are that there has been minimal if any damage on Grand Cayman," Ebanks said.

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