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Lili Dumps Rain on Jamaica, Haiti

September 28, 2002

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) _ Tropical Storm Lili dumped torrential rains over parts of Jamaica and Haiti on Saturday, threatening to set off flash floods and mudslides.

The storm was expected to hit eastern Cuba later Saturday and head toward the Cayman Islands. Lili appeared to be strengthening and could become a hurricane by Monday, said Martin Nelson, lead forecaster at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

In Jamaica, at least 12 people in the central parish of St. Catherine moved to an emergency shelter after their homes were flooded, said Sophia Mitchell of the emergency management service. No injuries were reported.

The U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, issued a storm alert and moved off-duty military police from seaside wooden cabins to more secure concrete quarters, said Chief Petty Officer Gabriel Puello, a spokesman at U.S. Southern Command in Miami.

The 598 detainees being held there with suspected links to the Taliban and al-Qaida could be moved to a secure location away from their seaside cells if there is a major storm.

The Navy, meanwhile, halted all boat and plane traffic to Guantanamo Bay while Lili’s outer bands brought rains. ``The base is locked down for the next 24 hours,″ Puello said.

At 2 p.m. EDT, Lili was about 110 miles south-southwest of Guantanamo Bay and had winds of about 50 mph. Tropical storm force winds extended 85 miles from Lili’s center, which was slowly drifting to the north-northwest.

In Kingston, gusts ripped tiles from Otter Spence’s roof and flooded the 77-year-old’s home with 6 inches of water.

``Everything we own is wet. I feel like we’re going to wash away, too,″ said Spence, who plugged holes in the roof with blue tarpaulins.

In the southwestern Haitian town of Tiburon, waves damaged several houses Friday, officials said.

Some Jamaican fishermen began moving their boats to safe harbors and some residents left their homes seeking higher ground. Air Jamaica canceled several flights.

Jamaica was under a tropical storm warning, and the Cayman Islands issued a storm watch for the islands of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.

The Cuban government issued a tropical storm warning for four provinces and maintained a tropical storm watch for two others.

Lili left four dead in St. Vincent Tuesday when a mudslide slammed into a home, crushing a mother and three children. It also damaged some 400 homes in Barbados and destroyed about half of St. Lucia’s banana crop _ the island’s main export.

Out in the open Atlantic, meanwhile, Kyle was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm as its winds decreased to about 70 mph. Kyle became the third hurricane of the Atlantic season on Thursday, but was weakening about 435 miles south-southeast of Bermuda and threatened only ships.

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On the Net:

National Hurricane Center: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov

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