Hurricane Sandy is seen churning over The Bahamas in this NASA handout satellite image taken on October 25, 2012
By Caribbean News Now contributor
MIAMI, USA -- On Friday afternoon, Hurricane Sandy was slowly moving away from The Bahamas after battering the island chain with heavy rain and violent winds, leaving emergency services trying to piece together exactly what the damage is in the aftermath of the storm.
According to Lt. Sonia Miller of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) there was some flooding in New Providence, mostly along the coastline, with some areas said to be severely flooded, parts even submerged.
Also in New Providence, more than 50 percent of all customers were without power up to 9 am on Friday morning.
In Exuma, power poles knocked down during the storm were affecting power supply to the island, and homes were reportedly damaged, as well as the government school, which lost its roof during the storm.
In Crooked Island, some flooding along with power outages were being dealt with.
In Acklins, power and communications were down and authorities there were dealing with flooding and leaks to several homes.
Power outages in New Providence and other islands have begun to affect thousands of Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) customers as well.
BTC officials estimate that close to 4,500 customers were without service around the country.
That number may or may not include customers on Abaco, where approximately 20 of the 22 cell phone towers are down.
Sandy had torn through Cuba on Thursday, toppling houses, ripping off roofs and killing 11 people, 9 of them in Santiago de Cuba (six women, two men and a four-month-old baby boy) and two men in Guantanamo. Sixteen deaths were also reported in Haiti and one in Jamaica.
The most affected provinces in Cuba were Santiago de Cuba, Holguin and Guantanamo, explained Colonel Miguel Angel Puig, head of Operations of the Civil Defense, during a radio and television appearance on Thursday afternoon.
Jose Rubiera, head of the Forecast Center of the Meteorology Institute, said that Hurricane Sandy made landfall in Cuba about 1:00 am on Thursday through the eastern province of Santiago de Cuba and left the island some five hours later through Holguin.
These are the second and third most populated provinces of the island, respectively, with together more than one million inhabitants.
According to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, at 5:00 pm on Friday, the centre of Hurricane Sandy was located about 60 miles north of Great Abaco in The Bahamas, moving toward the north near 7 mph. A general northward motion was expected to continue Friday night, followed by a turn toward the north-northeast with an increase in forward speed on Saturday, and a turn toward the northeast on Sunday. On the forecast track, the centre of Sandy will be moving away from the northwestern Bahamas.
Maximum sustained winds were near 75 mph, with higher gusts and some weakening is forecast during the next day or two.
Tropical storm conditions were expected to continue in Great Abaco and Grand Bahama during Friday evening.
Sandy is expected to produce total rainfall amounts of 6 to 12 inches across Haiti and the Dominican Republic, with isolated maximum totals of 20 inches possible. These rains may produce life-threatening flash floods and mud slides, especially in areas of mountainous terrain. Additional rainfall accumulations of 1 to 2 inches are expected over portions of The Bahamas, with isolated maximum totals of 12 inches possible.