Omar floods homes, damages crops in Antigua

Friday, October 17th 2008, 11:15 am
By: News 9


Associated Press Writer

ST JOHN'S, Antigua (AP) -- Hurricane Omar flooded homes and battered crops on the Caribbean island of Antigua before it spun north and weakened into a tropical storm, drifting toward extinction Friday over the open Atlantic.

Antiguan Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer warned of a produce shortage, saying the farming community "appears to have suffered an extensive loss of crops."

"No one is reported to have perished in this disaster," Spencer said late Thursday, hours after Omar blew past the Lesser Antilles islands as a Category 3 hurricane. "We are, nonetheless, faced with a natural disaster of serious proportions."

The crop damage comes amid spiraling food prices in the Caribbean and around the world. Spencer pledged to monitor the situation and work with farmers to meet their needs.

Omar blew north of the twin-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda early Thursday, dumping more than 5 inches (13 centimeters) of rain and forcing 75 people to seek refuge in public shelters.

The National Office of Disaster Services said rescue teams evacuated more than 30 people from flooded homes that were submerged under water or had slipped from their foundations.

Omar knocked down trees and caused some flooding and minor mudslides on several Caribbean islands, but all were spared a direct hit by the storm.

On Friday, Tropical Storm Omar was located about 670 miles (1,075 kilometers) southeast of Bermuda and posed no threat to land. It was expected to dissipate completely over the next several days, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)