GONE WITH THE WIND

GONE WITH THE WIND: Israel Suchit, left, speaks to Cumuto/Manzanilla MP Dr Rai Ragbir inside his roofless home yesterday at North Oropouche Road, Sangre Grande. —Photo: ROBERT TAYLOR

It came in the dead of the night, bringing howling wind and blinding rain that blanketed the country.

A cluster of thunderstorms unleashed violent winds and heavy showers which wreaked havoc across both islands just after midnight.

People said it felt like being caught in the worst kind of natural disaster even though it lasted for a few minutes in some areas and less than an hour in others.

But in the short time it pounded the country early yesterday morning, the storm cluster brought 82 kilometre per hour winds, ripped more than 300 roofs off, toppled more than 100 trees, damaged utility poles and left many roads impassable in both Trinidad and Tobago.

Areas that were battered included Sangre Grande, Wallerfield, Malabar, Las Lomas, D’Abadie, Arouca, Trincity, Tunapuna, Chaguanas, Port of Spain and Diego Martin.

There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries.

Meteorologist at the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service Kiran Sedoo described the event to the Express in a phone interview.

“What actually occurred is we had a squall line (a band of thunderstorms all moving together) that was associated with a tropical wave that is still currently affecting us. The feature that really produced the strong gusty winds was a wind surge that was associated with the entire mass of convective activity,” he said.

At the peak of the activity, winds were about 82 km per hour.

When the Express visited North Oropouche Road in Sangre Grande there were at least seven families left without a roof over their heads.

Sangre Grande resident Israel Suchit, who lives with his two daughters and granddaughter, said everyone (including a family friend who was visiting) was awakened when the roof blew off his home.

“Everything happened so quickly. We start to hear loud noises, we didn’t know if it was an earthquake or a hurricane at first. My eight-year-old granddaughter fly off the bed, my children woke up and by the time I opened the door, I saw the roof out in the road. We were trying to open the door to go downstairs but we couldn’t go because the breeze kept pushing us back.”

His furniture, appliances and granddaughter’s school supplies were destroyed by rain.

His neighbours also lost their roofs.

One of them was young mother Rianne Singh and her three-month-old daughter.

Singh said, “I was sleeping and normally you feel a hard breeze up there so we didn’t take it on at first and went back to bed but as soon as I lie down, I just felt one shake and we ran downstairs. As I made it downstairs the whole thing collapsed and I just started to cry because I didn’t know what to do.”

Other residents said people ran for safety when their roofs blew away.

Chairman of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation Anil Juteram confirmed that many residents in Cumuto and Manzanilla were affected.

The thunderstorms also impacted a mass vaccination drive in Wallerfield yesterday as gusty minds continued throughout the day.

At the Frankie Boodram Wallerfield International Raceway, where the North West Regional Health Authority (NWRHA) held its drive-through vaccination drive, five tents were blown away, bringing a halt to the vaccination drive for the day.

NWRHA chief executive Davlin Thomas confirmed that no vaccines were damaged when the storm hit.

The Express also observed many members of the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service moving trees and clearing debris blocking roads along the East-West Corridor yesterday.

Disaster Management Units have ensured that sandbags are available for distribution and Covid-19 compliant emergency shelters are ready to be activated if needed, the Ministry of Local Government said.

Power, phone, water worries

The Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission, the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) and telecoms provider bmobile had crews out in the aftermath of the storm yesterday.

The Office of the Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) said power lines were downed in D’Abadie by high winds.

Toppled trees also caused traffic as roads in Arima and Trincity were left impassable all Friday morning.

There was also flooding in Tunapuna.

One Tunapuna resident spoke to the Express as he tried to mop water out of his home.

He said, “I’ve never seen here flood before. And rain is still falling so all weekend we may have to go through this or worse. Last night was scary but I didn’t expect things to be like this.”

People lost electricity, cable TV and water yesterday.

WASA confirmed that several plants were affected by the adverse weather overnight.

“Various areas throughout Trinidad and Tobago, who may be experiencing a disruption in their pipe borne water supply that this is due to adverse weather overnight, which has resulted in fallen trees and power failures affecting operations at a number of its water treatment plants.”

These included the North Oropouche, Hollis, Matura, Aripo, Cumuto, Quare Road and Luengo, Naranjo, Tyrico, La Fillette, Blanchisseuse, Rincon, Las Cuevas, Biche, Stonebright, St Joseph booster, Mayaro wells, Chatham wells and Bloody Bay in Tobago, WASA stated.

T&TEC advised customers that supply was restored in some areas later yesterday, “but work has been slower than planned due to the continuing rainfall during the day. Additional reports were also received during the day.

“We acknowledge that many persons have been out for extended periods and again apologise. Our crews are working as quickly as possible to restore supply, given the environmental conditions.”

Restoration work was still in progress last night in Cascade, Diego Martin, Laventille, Maraval, North Coast Maracas to Blanchisseuse, San Juan, parts of Arima, Sangre Grande, Piarco, San Raphael, and Valencia.

More rain today

The TTMS said an adverse weather alert Yellow level continues to be in effect until 8 p.m. tonight. “There are ongoing heavy showers and thunderstorm activity affecting mainly parts of Trinidad and offshore marine areas of Tobago. This activity is expected to continue during (this) afternoon affecting both islands.

“While some dampening of the activity is expected during the earlier part of the night, enhanced activity is again expected towards midnight. Street/flash flooding, localised ponding, landslides/landslips and gusty winds in excess of 55 km/hr are still likely in areas of heavy showers or thunderstorms, with isolated downdraughts in excess of 65km/hr,” the TTMS said

Disaster Management Unit hotline numbers

Arima Borough Corporation 800-2ABC (2222)

Chaguanas Borough Corporation 800-DCBC (3222)

Couva/Tabaquite/Talparo Regional Corporation 800-CTTC (2882)

Diego Martin Regional Corporation 800-DMRC (3672)

Penal/Debe Regional Corporation 800-PDRC (7372)

Point Fortin Regional Corporation 800-PFBC (7322)

Princes Town Regional Corporation 800-PTRC (7872)

Port of Spain City Corporation 800-PSCC (7722)

San Fernando City Corporation 800-SCDU (7238)

Sangre Grande Regional Corporation 800-SGRC (7472)

San Juan/Laventille Regional Corporation 800-SLRC (7572)

Siparia Regional Corporation 800-4SRC (4772)

Mayaro/Rio Claro Regional Corporation 800-4MRC (4672) Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation 800-TPRC (8772) Tobago Emergency Management Agency-211

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

There is a new process for the selection of the Police Commissioner.

The Government has revoked the controversial June 2021 Commissioner of Police (Selection Process) Order, as well as the 2009 Order, and has replaced them with a new revised Order, titled Legal Notice 277 of November 25, 2021 Commissioner of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Police (Selection Process) Order.

A PRISON officer with 26 years of service was shot dead yesterday in front of his fruit and vegetable stall in Valencia.

He is the 26th prison officer to be murdered in the last 30 years.

Police said around 1.30 p.m. Trevor Serrette, 48, of Sangre Grande was sitting behind the counter at the stall located off the Eastern Main Road, Valencia. He was there with a 64-year-old relative and a friend when a white Nissan AD Wagon with two men stopped in front.

With four days still to go, November 2021 is now officially the deadliest month of the Covid-19 pandemic in Trinidad and Tobago.

Another 21 deaths were reported by the Ministry of Health yesterday, which pushed the death toll this month to 365, surpassing June’s total of 352.

Although stores did not see the usual crowds of people rushing to capitalise on Black Friday sales as was the custom pre-pandemic, Covid-19 did not stop many Trinis from capitalising on the sales yesterday.

Stores such as PriceSmart, Courts, Ashley Furniture Homestore, Massy Stores, TruValu and Detour all participated in the Black Friday tradition of having a huge one-day sale after Thanksgiving in the US.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s address to the nation on Thursday night has been met with mixed reactions across social media.

Many commenters said they tuned in to the 45-minute address eagerly anticipating the announcement of new measures to curb the spread of Covid-19 amidst rising cases and deaths, but were left baffled as they said the PM only repeated statistics and encouraged people to get vaccinated.

Recommended for you