The Effect of Hurricane Sandy on Jamaica

The Effects of Hurricane Sandy on Jamaica FOUNDATION SKILLS FOR GRADUATE MANAGEMENT EDUCATION The Three Main Effects of Hurricane Sandy that Affected Jamaica were Rainfall Induced Flooding, Storm Surges and Winds STEPHANIE SMITH Executive Summary On October 22, 2012, it was announced by The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM,) that a tropical depression (Sandy) was headed towards the shores of Jamaica and that the arrival to our shores would be on October 24. On the 24th Sandy approached and the effects were devastating.

The winds caused several trees to plummet, taking down power lines, utility poles and homes with them. The winds blew roof tops off and destroyed several produce causing a huge devastation to the agricultural sector. The rainfall caused several homes and roads impassible and even completely flooded a number of communities. The storm surges caused shores to be evacuated as the tides were too high and strong for shore home owners to weather the storm. .” 70% of Jamaicans were without electricity after the passage of Sandy due to down power lines, fire and blown transformers.

Many roads were impassible due to trees that had fallen. “Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Ian Hayles, says early estimates indicate that close to 11,000 farmers across the island have been affected by Hurricane Sandy, with some 1,500 hectares of crops “totally destroyed. ” (Reynolds-Baker, 2012). ” He goes on to highlight the breakdown of early estimates of damages that amounted to $700 million. . Understanding the effects such as wind damage, flooding and storm surges can better help us as Jamaicans and the Jamaican government to prepare for tropical depressions, storms and hurricanes.

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Within a couple of hours Sandy had been upgraded to a tropical storm and Jamaica was put on tropical storm watch. This advisory was then upgraded on the 23rd to a tropical storm warning as a hurricane watch was issued. Jamaica was again upgraded from hurricane watch to warning sometime during the day on the 23rd, because as soon as Sandy touched landfall she will manifest into a hurricane. Wednesday approached and with it Sandy. The effects were devastating. The winds caused several trees to plummet, taking down power lines, utility poles and homes with them.

The winds blew roof tops off and destroyed several produce causing a huge devastation to the agricultural sector. The rainfall caused several homes and roads impassible and even completely flooded a number of communities. The storm surges caused shores to be evacuated as the tides were too high and strong for shore home owners to weather the storm. Classifications of Tropical Weather There are three main classifications of tropical weather activity: tropical depression, tropical storm and hurricane. The first official stage of a tropical classification is a tropical depression.

AccuWeather explains that “a tropical depression forms when a low pressure area is accompanied by thunderstorms that produce a circular flow with maximum sustained winds below 39 mph. Most tropical depressions have maximum sustained winds between 25 and 35 mph. ” The second stage is the tropical storm which is an upgrade to the tropical depression where the cyclonic circulations become more organized and has winds between 38 and 76 mph. “Tropical storm status is when the naming of the storm takes place.

A tropical storm is then upgraded into Category 1 hurricane status as maximum sustained winds increase to between 74 mph and 95 mph (AccuWeather, 2010). ” The main feature of a hurricane is wind. Tropical depressions and storms will have a lot of rainfall and calm winds, but once the winds pick up intensity it will quickly be classified into a hurricane. This is why the measure of hurricanes is done by its wind intensity. There are 5 ratings measured by The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale which is used to rate hurricane intensity in the Atlantic Basin.

SAFFIR-SIMPSON SCALE| CATEGORY| WIND| DAMAGE POTENTIAL| 5| * 156| Catastrophic| 4| 131 – 155| Extreme| 3| 111 – 130| Extensive| 2| 96 – 110| Moderate| 1| 74 – 95| Minimal| Table 1: Saffir-Simpson Scale Within these 3 classifications, watches and warnings are issued. “A watch lets you know that weather conditions are favorable for a hazard to occur while a warning requires immediate action (National Hurricane Center, n. d. ). ” A tropical storm or hurricane watch occur when those conditions (mentioned above) are possible/likely to occur in that specified area.

While, the tropical storm of hurricane warning take place when those conditions are expected to occur. Effects of Sandy “Wind is responsible for much of the structural damage caused by hurricanes. High winds, uproot trees and tear down power lines. The maximum winds from fast moving and powerful storms may remain high, even when the storm is well inland (The Weather Channel, n. d. ). ” The aftermath of Sandy in Jamaica was the epitome of wind damage. “With storm force winds of up to 80miles per hour, Sandy left a trail of mainly wind damage in the central and eastern parishes (Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, 2012). 70% of Jamaicans were without electricity after the passage of Sandy due to down power lines, fire and blown transformers. Many roads were impassible due to trees that had fallen. A huge sector that was affected by winds was the agricultural sector. “Minister of State in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Hon. Ian Hayles, says early estimates indicate that close to 11,000 farmers across the island have been affected by Hurricane Sandy, with some 1,500 hectares of crops “totally destroyed. ” (Reynolds-Baker, 2012). The news article goes on to highlight the breakdown of early estimates of damages that amounted to $700 million. “Mr. Hayles explained that the total figure will be much more, when assessments for the parishes St. Thomas, Portland, St. Ann and Clarendon are completed (Reynolds-Baker, 2012). “The heavy rains associated with a tropical weather system are responsible not only for major flooding in areas where the storm initially strikes, but also can affect areas hundreds of miles from where the storm originally made landfall (The Weather Channel, n. . ). ” There was flooding in some communities following the passage of Sandy. Low lying areas in the St. Mary and Portland and St Ann’s suffered flooding. One community was totally marooned by floods. (Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, 2012). ” The rainfall is a huge factor in damage done to roads. “The estimate of the damage done to roads and other infrastructure by those rains is just under $1. 1 billion. (OPM Communications Unit, 2012)”. This could be attributed to the poor construction and maintenance or roads and drainage systems.

Homes that were built on gully banks were at high risk from flooding and wind. “Storm surge is a rapid rise in the level of water that moves onto land as the eye of the storm makes landfall. Once the edge of the storm reaches the shallow waters of the continental shelf, water piles up. Winds of hurricane strength force the water onto shore. (The Weather Channel, n. d. ). ” The Jamaican government ordered the evacuation of coast as they knew that Sandy came with it storm surges that would be a devastating factor to home owners and fishermen on the coastlines.

Conclusion and Recommendation Since Jamaica is in a tropical zone where we are prone to a numerous amount of Hurricanes, we need to understand the effects and risks. Understanding the effects such as wind damage, flooding and storm surges can better help us as Jamaicans and the Jamaican government to prepare for tropical depressions, storms and hurricanes. Understanding the type of weather system prepares us even further; whether depression or storm prepare for more flooding than wind damage and hurricane more wind damage than flooding.

The government needs to put policies and proper processes in place on a long term basis to prepare for hurricanes. The government needs to review building codes such as living in flood prone areas and living on gully sides. They also need to urge persons pursuing construction as well as the National Works Agency (NWA) to properly fix and pave the Jamaican roads. It makes no sense for roads to be fixed one month in advance of a hurricane and during a hurricane the roads get a washed away. The government also needs to put and maintain proper drainage systems.

The needs to place a sufficient amount drains to handle the water build up as well as when roads are paved over the relevant companies close the drains that were once in place. On a more short term basis, the government needs to trim trees or urge citizens to trim trees that are close and over hanging utility lines. This will lessen the number of fallen poles and lines rapidly. If the government takes these steps along with its current hurricane initiative, it will reduce the amount of damages by a significant amount of dollars and the Jamaican society will be able to bounce back from another episode of hurricane much faster.

References AccuWeather. (2010, July 22). What’s the Difference Between a Tropical Depression, Tropical Storm and Hurricane. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from AccuWeather. com: http://www. accuweather. com/en/weather-news/whats-the-difference-between-a/34388 Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. (2012, October 28). CDEMA Situation Report #3 – Hurricane Sandy. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from reliefweb: http://reliefweb. int/report/jamaica/cdema-situation-report-3-hurricane-sandy Irie FM. (2012, October 23).

Education Ministry orders all schools closed tomorrow. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from IrieFM. net: http://www. iriefm. net/news/headline/education-ministry-orders-all-schools-closed-tomorrow Jamaica Observer. (2012, October 23). Early Closure of Tax Offices. Retrieved Novermber 6, 2012, from The Jamaica Observer: http://www. jamaicaobserver. com/news/Early-closure-for-Tax-Offices Live Jamaica. (2012, October 23). Education Ministry Orders Schools Closed Tomorrow. Retrieved November 6, 2012, from Live Jamaica Updates:

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