Bad weather across the country overnight on Thursday left a 72-year-old pensioner and her other 11 family members in Mt St George, Tobago without a roof over their heads.
Shortly after 11pm on Thursday, reports of heavy rain and violent gusts blowing off roofs, toppling trees onto houses and across roads, as well as power outages on the island emerged on social media. This followed an adverse weather alert issued for overnight by the Meteorological Services.
The pensioner, Ruby Solomon of Castara Road, Mt St George, recounted the ordeal to Newsday.
“At approximately 11pm, the high winds started, the rains came down and then few minutes after, current went. As the current went, in a matter of five-ten minutes, the roof went off – it just started to flip up with the high winds – the wind was real strong – and the roof from the back flip over into the front part. After, as the water started to come, I had was to run out the house.”
Solomon, who shared the house with 11 relatives, said she was unable to save any belongings.
“I really didn’t get to save anything or even cover up anything. because I was so frightened. Also at that hour of the night, it was dark – I had was to run out. Everything got damages, everything waterlogged – beds, chairs, everything – from the water. The whole place is soaking.”
She said she was traumatised.
“It real hard. It was really shocking, and I really wasn’t looking for something like this, especially at this time. I never expected to experience something like this.”
She said her daughter contacted the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), which had since visited.
She is uncertain of her next move.
“We have no idea what would happen next, even at this time.”
When contacted, electoral representative for the area Assemblyman Joel Jack said he had since spoken to TEMA director Allan Stewart, who gave an update on the situation. He said Stewart told him some support was provided to the family and he in turn asked for assistance with urgent repairs from the THA Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment.
“I subsequently received a message from the division’s secretary, councillor (Kwesi) DesVignes, and also a report was forwarded to me. I also requested from him that DIQE effect urgent repairs to the roof – if a contractor could be dispatched to the house to remedy the situation.”
Stewart said for three days, the family will be provided with shelter.
"We have made arrangements for them to reside at a residential area – a guesthouse in the western end of the island. We provide 72 hours (accommodation) until the Social Services Department gets involved."
Stewart said additionally, the roofs of three other homes on the island were severely damaged.
“We would have had about four very serious reports, all of which were residential damages to roofs, mainly in east Tobago.”
Damaged roofs were also reported in Goodwood and Pembroke. He said tents set up at the Scarborough General Hospital for covid19-positive patients were also damaged.
Power outages, he said were reported in Mason Hall, Mt Irvine, Mt Grace, Bon Accord, Hope, Belle Garden and Kendal.
He said several trees fell along the Claude Noel Highway, near the entrance to the Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort, Lowlands.
“But those were taken care of overnight.”
Stewart said the bad weather, which began at 11 pm and lasted roughly an hour, generated “storm-strength winds” of 32 mph and gusts of 40 mph.
T&TEC, in a press release, said restoration efforts were continuing apace as widespread outages occurred in areas of Crown Point, Hope and parts of Mason Hall. Areas affected, they said, included Glamorgan, Mt Irvine, Lambeau, Lowlands, Delaford, Moriah, Mason Hall, Mary’s Hill, Mt Thomas, Patience Hill, Carnbee, Belle Garden, Mt St George, Canaan and Bloody Bay.
Internet provider Digicel Plus said its customers were experiencing disruptions in their fibre broadband service throughout the island. It said it was working to restore service as soon as possible.