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Jose Floods Caribbean Islands

October 23, 1999

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten (AP) _ More than a day after Hurricane Jose crashed through a chain of southeastern Caribbean islands, outer sections of the downgraded storm have inundated them with rain that created mudslides, flooded homes and city streets and blocked roads.

Worst hit appeared to be the Dutch islands of St. Maarten, St. Eustatius and Saba, where the governors ordered people to stay home Friday.

``It’s not safe out there,″ said Lt. Gov. Eugene Abdul of St. Eustatius. Dozens of tourists trapped by the storm were forced to spend another day on the waterlogged island.

``Both of my bedrooms had about half an inch of water in them. I’ve just been mopping and mopping,″ said Dave Bicker, staff secretary to the governor on the British island of Anguilla.

Islanders had just congratulated themselves on weathering Jose’s 100-mph winds through Wednesday and early Thursday without any major injuries when the rain started and didn’t let up until Friday afternoon.

Meteorologists said up to 18 inches had fallen by early Friday. They warned more was to come with Jose stalled north of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

While the sun shone in Puerto Rico, the storm’s outer edges dumped torrential rain on the Windward Islands _ the southern half of the eastern Caribbean chain.

On St. Maarten, streams in the hills surrounding the capital of Philipsburg burst their banks, flooding some main roads with up to two feet of water. Yards flooded and people called radio stations to say floodwaters were seeping into their homes. Radio stations reported rock slides and landslides but said there were no reports of injuries.

The plant of The Daily Herald newspaper was flooded, editor Roger Snow said.

``The roof blew off,″ he said. ``It’s all one big mess because of the water. It’s still pouring down and it gets worse and worse as long as the rain continues.″

In a radio address, St. Maarten’s Lt. Gov. Dennis Richardson warned islanders to stay off roads made impassable by fallen rocks, uprooted trees and swiftly flowing floodwaters. Richardson also ordered police to close a flooded main road that kept 5,000 people isolated in the village of St. Peter’s.

Anguilla fared little better, though it had power after work crews braved heavy overnight rain to restore electricity. Local government official Orris Proctor said Anguilla’s famed beaches suffered severe erosion in the south and east.

In Antigua and Barbuda, which took the brunt of the hurricane during its passage, the Red Cross distributed tarpaulins and blankets to people whose homes were damaged. Prime Minister Lester Bird said the country would be back on its feet within a week.

Rob Sherman, chairman of Antigua and Barbuda’s hotel association, said two major hotels would close for repairs _ Sandals for 10 days and the Rex Resort for five weeks. But 95 percent of hoteliers were accommodating guests and would remain open, he said.

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