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Sunday 18 November 2018
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Tobago

Tobago not out of woods

TEMA chief says threat of landslides, damage to homes remain

Allan Stewart, left, Director, Tobago Emergency Management Agency at a stakeholders meeting to review Tobago sargassum emergency response plan earlier this year.
Allan Stewart, left, Director, Tobago Emergency Management Agency at a stakeholders meeting to review Tobago sargassum emergency response plan earlier this year.

COREY CONNELLY

Although the island was spared the brunt of Saturday's deluge, Allan Stewart, director of the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), said Tobagonians should not be complacent.

"We should consider ourselves to be very fortunate so far. But we are not yet out of the woods," he told Newsday Tobago on Sunday.

"As I tell people, based on my experience, the amount of rainfall that we would have had, you may just hear 'something collapse' –a house may collapse or a tree may fall – causing injury to somebody or someone's property. Those are possibilities, especially if you have any little wind."

Stewart said teams were in the field doing damage assessments and attending to the remnants of landslides in parts of Tobago.

"We are attending to pockets of mini-landslides that may be along the roadway that may become a hazard to the road users.

"That is the work that is cut out for us, to do damage assessments and needs of persons who may have been affected, and also remove whatever debris or deposits that are on the roadway."

Heavy rainfall, the result of an active Inter-Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) which began last Wednesday, triggered widespread flooding across the country on Saturday.

So extensive was the deluge, the Prime Minister labelled it a "national disaster" and said he would go to Cabinet to seek $25 million in flood relief for affected citizens.

Tobago also experienced heavy rainfall, landslips and some flooding, which caused the Curry Duck Lime, a precursor to the popular Blue Food Festival, to be postponed. The event was due to take place at the Bloody Bay Recreation Ground.

Stewart said several of the landslips occurred on the Northside Road, particularly along the routes to the Blue Food Festival. These included L'Anse Fourmi, Bloody Bay, Roxborough and Bloody Bay Link Road.

"We are just making sure there are no landslides in those areas that may impede pedestrians in any way."

Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles said in a statement on Saturday TEMA had confirmed that weather conditions were becoming more severe as the ITCZ intensified.

The statement quoted Stewart as saying, “We can expect conditions such as flash flooding, landslides or land slippage and other hazards, as rainfall increases on the island.”

Stewart, the release said, confirmed reports of flash flooding in areas such as Speyside, Bacolet and Delaford as well as landslide activity in Mason Hall, Castara, L’Anse Fourmi and Hope, where the road had become impassable.

Stewart said the THA has launched a relief effort for Trinidadians who have been deeply affected by Saturday's flooding.

"They have begun picking up donations of relief items that could help those persons who have been affected in Trinidad. It is spearheaded out of the Office of the Chief Secretary."

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