Trinidad, Tobago spared major damage from weather system


T&TEC workers, at the top, stabilise an electricity pole to prevent it from falling on Martha Alleyne’s, right, house after it was dislodged by a landslide during heavy rainfall on Tuesday night at Second Caledonia, Morvant. – SUREASH CHOLAI

THIS country was spared the brunt of the tropical wave which increased wind speeds and slammed into Grenada on Tuesday.

Speaking on I95 FM on Wednesday morning, CEO of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) Maj Gen Rodney Smart emphasised how much the country should be grateful for.

“It was not bad, we were fortunate. Trinidad and Tobago was spared based on what we expected.”

Smart’s comments were echoed by pensioner Martha Alleyne who thanked Jesus for sparing her family from danger when a small landslide almost brought down an electric poll on her Morvant home.

Speaking with Newsday at her Second Caledonia home, Alleyne,76 said she barely slept on Tuesday night as she was concerned for her safety and that of her daughter and granddaughter.

“Last night, I ain’t close my eyes. My heart was beating fast because if it fall on the house we could never tell what could happen. I didn’t sleep last night, they tell me go over by my daughter next door, I say no. God is love and really nothing happened.”

Alleyne said the electricity pole, thankfully, did not provide electricity to her home. She said, on Wednesday night, she would have a “proper sleep.”

Smart, during his interview, said there were reports of minimal damage with flooding in Penal, the landslide at Alleyne’s home, a fallen bamboo patch in St Ann’s and three incidents in Tobago where there were reports of fallen rocks and trees and one collapsed structure.

“We won’t get past ‘God is a Trini’ and, based on what happened, that sentiment will be reinforced. We don’t accept the view that God is a Trini and then do nothing. Please continue to strengthen yourself, community and nation. We have gotten two rehearsals in the last two months and must think about bigger things that can happen to our country and how we act in times like these is very important.”

Smart said, in May, the ODPM had a public-awareness campaign on disaster preparedness and management. Based on that and how the public responded on Tuesday, he said there seemed to be greater awareness. He encouraged the citizens to continue to work together in facing disasters.

“I heard your ad and there was a quote about Joan of Arc that said ‘Act and God will act.’ I want to take this time to say to our society thanks as well for acting because the ODPM would have been, since May, enhancing disaster preparedness and management and disaster mitigation and we would have done that with the national disaster prevention and preparedness multi-sectoral committee, chaired by the ODPM.”

Alleyne dismissed claims that the tropical wave sparing TT was a laughing matter as some did on social media.

“Around after 1 am, I see the rain start to drizzle. I say, ‘Father Lord! Don’t make nothing happen, guide us Jesus in your name,’ and the rain ease down.

“If the rains had come heavy and winds, you see what could have happened?” she asked pointing to the exposed lightpole.

She added, “Thank you Jesus! God worked in a mysterious way!”

She said, on Wednesday morning while listening to the radio, she heard people calling in and addressing the absence of mayhem in a negative way and was forced to turn off the radio. She called it “low-class conversation” and urged everyone to come together and give thanks that the weather was not as bad as anticipated.

Jonathan Mora, a meteorological observer, certified by the World Meteorological Organization, said TT was spared the effects of the tropical wave because the strongest winds in tropical disturbances usually occur over the North-western quadrant of the system. This is unlike a strong hurricane where the strongest winds occur around the eye.

He said while Trinidad was spared, other islands, including Tobago were not so lucky. In Tobago there were recorded wind speeds of 63km/h on Tuesday afternoon at 2.17 pm and the same wind speeds at 3.38 am on Wednesday.

At 11am on Tuesday the Met Office said the disturbance, designated PTC2, was moving west at 37km/h. Tropical disturbances are classed as tropical storms when winds reach 63 km/h. When winds reach speeds of or above 119 km/h the storm is classified as a tropical cyclone.

Mora said on Tuesday at 4 pm Grenada recorded wind speeds of 118 km/h, which decreased at 5 pm to 70 km/h. They further decreased at 6 pm to 63 km/h and increased speed from 11 pm to 67 km/h. On Wednesday at 12 am, the country recorded wind speeds of 83 km/h, which dropped at 3 am to 78 km/h and at 5 am reached 67 km/h.

St Vincent and the Grenadines recorded wind speeds at 4 pm on Tuesday at 4 pm of 59km/h which Mora said was near the tropical storm force.

In Barbados windspeeds reached as high as 76 km/h.

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency said St Vincent and the Grenadines had gusty winds and intermediate rainfall. In Guyana and Suriname there were heavy rains with no reports of any major flooding. Grenada’s National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA) issued an “all clear” on Wednesday morning.

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