Freak storm hits Sando
By Vashtee Achibar Monday, September 17 2012
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Roof blown off: Single mother Ife Awalowo lost part of her roof which blew off her home in Embacadere after thundershowers yesterday....
Hundreds of residents in San Fernando and environs were left counting their losses last night after gale force winds and heavy rains battered many areas ripping off roofs and walls, felling giant trees, sinking fishing boats off King’s Wharf and causing flooding in low lying areas.
Mosquito Creek in La Romaine along the South Trunk Road, one of the major thoroughfares to South Western Trinidad, remained under high water for hours forcing motorists to seek alternative routes to Point Fortin and Cedros.
Up until after midday, the sun was shining and the skies were clear giving no indication of the nightmare that was to follow.
Then at about 1 pm the place started to become dark , and the rain began to pour in torrents. Electricity was knocked out. From Newsday’s South office in Carlton Centre office trees were seen swaying dangerously on the San Fernando Hill. Lightning followed by several loud peals of thunder came in quick succession adding to the frightening situation. Drivers had to proceed with their headlights on as the thundershowers descended.
A large tree toppled from the hillside and came crashing down on a vehicle at the NP gas station on Pointe-a-Pierre Road.
Over at Lady Hailes Avenue, persons on their way to visit friends and relatives were stopped in their tracks as several large poui trees lay across the roadway leading up to the Accident and Emergency Department of the San Fernando General Hospital. Motorists had to park their vehicles and walk up the hill as firefighters from the Lady Hailes Fire Station used power saws, axes and cutlasses to clear the fallen trees.
One motorist was not so lucky as a tree fell on his car which was already parked in the hospital’s car park. The trail of destruction continued along Lady Hailes Avenue where two roofs were blown off. One of the victims, Abigail Ramkissoon was in tears as she surveyed her water-soaked clothing and other belongings in her modest home. Her husband was on the roof when Newsday arrived as he tried to nail back the galvanise sheets which had blown off. Looking down at her water- soaked mattress in the yard, Abigail wondered how she would go to work today.
Her brother Dhanraj suffered a similar fate. “I was helping my mom, when the sea started to kick and the wind started to blow real hard and I see my roof blowing off,” the worried man explained. “Everything soaked,” he said.
Councillor for Springvale/ Paradise, John Mark Chankersingh along with an officer from the Disaster Management Unit promised to send a tarpaulin and foodstuff.
Contacted at about 8 pm, Chankersingh said, “I was able to drop off tarpaulins and mattresses for seven families. I want to get Self Help to visit these families. It is tragic, I feel sorry for these poor people, they just lost about everything.”
He added there were officials from the corporation and the MPs office who were doing an assessment of the damage. Over at King’s Wharf, fisherman Errol Ranghill was also left counting his losses as his pirouge, “Massiah” sank with the engine and net in the rough seas. “The weather was good so I was planning to go back in the sea, that’s how I manage to leave the engine in the boat with the net. The weather changed so suddenly, it caught us by surprise. I don’t even know if the engine could be repaired,” he said shaking his head.
At Embacadere, which is also located along the southern coastline, a 50-foot laden coconut tree came tumbling down on a house owned by Lall Maharaj, a 77-year-old pensioner shortly before 2 pm. The weight of the tree damaged his roof and wall. “The whole roof leaking now because the weight damage the galvanise. I would like to get some help to repair it,” he cried.
Only moments before, his daughter Shirley had gathered family members in the front porch when she saw the coconut tree swaying in the high winds. “I see when the lightning hit the tree and then I heard a loud crackling sound and the tree came crashing down. I thought the whole house mash up,” she said. Like her father, Shirley is also thanking God that no one was injured.
A short distance from the Maharaj’s, Ife Awalowo was left trying to put the shattered pieces of her life back together as she too surveyed her water-soaked house. “ The wind came from the sea, and blew of the roof, I was frightened. I tried to make sure my child was safe, but everything got soaked. I would like to get some help, please,” she cried.
The freak storm would leave its destructive mark higher up the southern coast along Bayshore in Marabella where between 13 to 14 roofs were blown off. All the affected houses are perched perilously close to the sea. Many of the residents explained they have lived there all their lives and have nowhere else to go.
An elderly resident, Manuel Stanisclaus, 77, who has lived in Bayshore for over 40 years said he never experienced anything like that before.
Farida Mohammed also of Bayshore was cooking when the house started to shake and then the roof blew off and landed some 20 feet away in the fenced compound of a neighbour.
Michele Boney, a mother of four, told Newsday she would have to send her children by her mother to sleep as the one-room house was soaked from top to bottom by the heavy rains.
Volunteers from the Red Cross also visited Bayshore to give their assistance. TTEC was on hand at well visiting the affected houses to ensure safety.
Councillor Gloria Calliste visiting the affected families. “I will accommodate three families in my office for tonight,” she said. “They need clothing and something to eat. I have to help them, is my area,” she added.
Similar scenes of destruction were reported in Thompson Gardens in San Fernando, Esperanza, Claxton Bay and Barrackpore.
Chairman of the National Commission for Self Help Surujdeo Mangaroo said he is planning to visit affected areas this morning beginning in Bayshore, Marabella.