Gonzalo passes, spares Tobago any damage

TEMA workers remove a tree which fell on the roof of Les Couteaux Health Centre during the passage of Tropical Storm Gonzalo on Saturday. PHOTO BY DAVID REID -
TEMA workers remove a tree which fell on the roof of Les Couteaux Health Centre during the passage of Tropical Storm Gonzalo on Saturday. PHOTO BY DAVID REID -

Menacing thunder, pounding rains and mild gusts associated with Tropical Storm Gonzalo heralded its passage over Tobago on Saturday.

But the storm, which was expected to be a highly-intense weather system, weakened hours after making landfall around 8 am.

By 1 pm, the TT Meteorological Service discontinued the tropical storm warning for Tobago, which it had issued previously for the island.

As of 6 pm, the Tobago Emergency Operations Centre was also partially deactivated, the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA) said in an advisory.

The earliest seventh named system of the Atlantic season on record, Gonzalo, fortunately, did not cause any major damage to Tobago.

It was reported that a tree fell on a health facility at Les Coteaux around 10.35 am while a roof was dislodged at a bus shed in Argyle, on the island’s east side at 10 am. People were not injured.

TEMA, which held an emergency meeting on Thursday to streamline its mechanisms, had planned for the worst.

Some ten shelters were activated at communities, mainly in north-east Tobago, which was expected to be the region most affected by the storm.

The shelters were closed at 4 pm owing to the Met Service’s discontinuation of the tropical storm warning.

Shelter managers had also received extensive training in light of the covid19 pandemic.

In addition, several businesses were closed, including Viewport supermarket, which said in a notice it was monitoring the storm’s progress of the storm and closed all of its locations to ensure the safety of its staff and customers.

MovieTowne, Lowlands, and the Pigeon Point Heritage Park also did not open for business.

Caribbean Airlines Ltd also announced in a statement that some 26 domestic flights between Trinidad and Tobago were cancelled due to the storm.

Tobago West candidates Ricardo Phillip and Nickocy Phillips cancelled their general election campaign launches, which were expected to be held at Bethany Junction, Mt Pleasant, and Buccoo Integrated Facility respectively.

Other political parties also rescheduled their walkabouts and meetings.

Speaking at a news conference at TEMA’s Bacolet headquarters around midday, its director Allan Stewart said the island had overcome the worst.

“We are very pleased to report to you that based on the situation as it is at this time, we feel very strong that the worst has passed us and, therefore, we can see things getting back to normalcy very soon.”

However, he urged Tobagonians to be cautious.

“I do want to be very cautious here in that we may not be totally out of the woods. But I will say that we seem to be the king of this wood, so far, in that we will walk away as the true lions of the forest.”

Stewart, who was accompanied by Chief Secretary Ancil Dennis, confirmed the reports about the Les Coteaux and Argyle incidents, which he regarded as minor.

In relation to the former, he said Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT) responded quickly and recognised there was no structural damage to the health facility.

Stewart said the agency had received nine distress calls by noon.

He added 12 people had accessed accommodation at several of the ten shelters across Tobago.

Stewart urged travellers to be extremely vigilant on the island’s roadways.

He said state companies, TSTT, WASA and TTEC as well as the TT Defence Force were very supportive.

“I know it’s a little too early to be waving the chequered flag but I am taking that bold step based on what we have observed from what the science is presenting to us.”

Stewart assured the Emergency Operations Centre, which is in activation mode, would remain this way “until we are clear that all is over based on the information and the releases from the TT Meteorological Service.”


"Gonzalo passes, spares Tobago any damage"

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