From National Public Radio (NPR) nAugust 20, 2007 9:00 AM ET
Hurricane Dean continues to rip through the Caribbean, with heavy wind and rain storms hitting many of the islands. Tyrone Taborn offers a firsthand account from Jamaica, where the government asked people to head for public shelter as hurricane storms swept across the island.
FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
We’re cutting our weekly economic segment a little short to bring you the latest news on Hurricane Dean. The first hurricane of the Atlantic season is bearing down on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula with sustained winds of 150 miles an hour. It’s a Category 4 storm, fast approaching Category 5, passing just south of Jamaica Sunday night, causing flooding and property damage but no deaths.
Tyrone Taborn, CEO and publisher of Career Communications Group, is staying in Jamaica’s Montego Bay on vacation with his family. He’s with us now to tell us what he saw.
Mr. TYRONE TABORN (CEO and Publisher, Career Communications Group, Inc): Thank you. Hello.
CHIDEYA: So give me an example of what you guys felt, knowing, as we do now, that Jamaica was spared in some ways.
Mr. TABORN: Well, certainly Jamaica was spared. On Montego Bay, where I am, did not take the kind of damage that we all anticipated. But certainly, this was a very, very dangerous hurricane. And my family and I are thankful that we actually survived it.
CHIDEYA: How does…
Mr. TABORN: Yesterday – I’m…
CHIDEYA: I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Mr. TABORN: Yesterday morning, when we woke up, it was a strong breeze compared to today where there’s a whisper of a breeze – of wind and very calm seas, but there were winds coming in. And throughout the day, the winds actually ticked up. You could see the trees – some of these trees, three-story high, being pushed, then the water came.
And I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to walk in, you know, against 60-mile winds. But at the very beginning, I said, let me try because the full force of the hurricane hadn’t happen. Within seconds, I was drenched and almost felt that I was being lifted, and I knew I needed – if I wanted to live until today, I needed to get inside.
CHIDEYA: Was your family frightened by this?
Mr. TABORN: Everyone was frightened going into it, because not since 1950 -this hurricane was predicted to be the worst since 1950, worse than what happened in 1988. So we were all frightened. But I will tell you, I am amazed with the state of emergency that the government of Jamaica put in place. They were absolutely prepared. They start cutting off electricity when it started in Kingston, and as the Hurricane Dean moved throughout the island, different grids went down and we actually lost electricity around 2 o’ clock.
Mr. TABORN: The hotel was absolutely prepared – food, water, lots of security guards. There’s absolutely no crime happening here in the aftermath.
CHIDEYA: Finally, how have locals expressed what they felt?
Mr. TABORN: The locals are – the Jamaicans are absolutely wonderful people who live under this threat of hurricanes, as you know as well as people in Florida. But they hope for the best. They were – every Jamaican I’ve spoke to kept saying, it will turn south, right. They were so optimistic, and I think it’s because they have done such a wonderful job in rebuilding tourism since 1988. And every Jamaican knew that the future of their country really did rest in what they did. As a tourist here, I just felt absolutely safe and embraced by the wonderful Jamaican people.
CHIDEYA: Well, Tyrone, thank you so much for your eyewitness account.
Mr. TABORN: Thank you.
CHIDEYA: Tyrone Taborn is CEO and publisher of Career Communications Group. He’s in Jamaica’s Montego Bay on vacation with his family.