KINGSTON – Some food items are beginning to become scarce on store shelves in Jamaica as people stock up before the expected arrival of Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 storm that is following a northwestern track through the southern Caribbean with maximum sustained winds of 240 kilometers (149 miles) per hour.
Local media are reporting that it is only specific items that are in short supply at this point in some supermarkets in the capital area, where – just as in the rest of the country – people are making preparations for the arrival of the storm, presently located 510 km (316 mi.) south-southeast of Kingston, according to the U.S.-based National Hurricane Center’s 8 a.m. bulletin.
The Jamaican National Weather Center predicts that the hurricane will pass over the island on Monday.
The eagerness of the public to snap up various food items has caused some of them to become scarce, as in the Brooklyn Supermarket in Saint Andrew, a town near the capital, store manager Albert Lym said.
Local media say that the situation there is similar to that of other stores around the island.
Executives with big grocery store chains like Mega Mart and Hi-Lo acknowledged that they are being swamped by a surplus of customers, who are afraid of being left without the basics and are grabbing up all the food they can.
The public is following the local authorities’ advice, however, who have urged citizens to make all the necessary preparations.
The government announced that all its shelters are stocked with food and other supplies.
The measures taken by the authorities include transferring 100 prisoners from the Fort Augusta prison in Santa Catalina to another prison near Kingston.
Health authorities have asked patients who can to return to their homes, since during the storm they will be attending only to emergency cases.
The assistant police commissioner in charge of strategic operations, Clifford Blake, said that the rules governing disaster procedures have been put into in effect, including guaranteeing a police presence all around the country, particularly areas subject to flooding.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness said in a message to the public on Saturday night that preparations for the storm are under way.
Caribbean emergency management authorities at CDEMA, based in Barbados, said that residents in flood-prone areas in Jamaica and Haiti are being asked to move to higher ground.
Matthew, the fifth hurricane of this year’s Atlantic storm season, remains a Category 4 storm and its northwestward track will likely cause it – in the coming several days – to affect Jamaica, Haiti and eastern Cuba, where the authorities have taken special measures to deal with it.