Thousands affected by tropical wave aftermath

A disaster management crew from the Ministry of Works and Transport works to clear the Antigua Road in Valencia on Friday morning after two large almond trees blocked the roadway after being knocked down by high winds and heavy rain on Thursday night. - PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB
A disaster management crew from the Ministry of Works and Transport works to clear the Antigua Road in Valencia on Friday morning after two large almond trees blocked the roadway after being knocked down by high winds and heavy rain on Thursday night. - PHOTO BY ROGER JACOB

In the aftermath of the bad weather on Thursday night, hundreds of people were left without power, homes were damaged and landslides made major roads impassable.

The strong winds and heavy rainook the country by surprise, as many were awakened by loud crashes, howling winds and in some areas the loss of electricity just after midnight.

Before sunrise on Friday, TT Weather Centre had already reported over 50 landslides, fallen trees and poles pulling down electrical wires, blown-off roofs and loss of electricity across the country.

However, there were a few people on social media who said they slept comfortably and were unaware of the chaos.

Fortunately, there was no reported loss of life or livestock.

The Met Office issued an adverse weather alert on Thursday night until Friday at 4 pm. This alert was later extended to 6 pm and then to 8 pm on Saturday.

Senior disaster management co-ordinator at the Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government, Jerry David said corporations across the country reported a total of 339 blown-off roofs and 99 fallen trees.

Just after 2 am, La Horquetta residents reported a sparking transformer and electricity lines as winds strengthened.

There were fallen trees on the Eastern Main Road between Sangre Grande and Valencia. Galvanise sheets were wrapped between overhead utility lines at Phoenix Park, Claxton Bay. Cleaver Road, Arima became impassable after a large tree completely blocked the way.

Chairman of the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation Kwasi Robinson told Newsday reports came in as early as 3 am of damaged roofs and fallen trees. Up to 3 pm the corporation had received 60 reports. He said most of the debris along the road had been cleared.

The strong winds damaged a KFC billboard and a large tree took down a streetlight at Crystal Stream junction, along the Diego Martin Highway.

Newsday visited Diamond Vale resident Randell Dunmore of Onyx Drive after a fallen tree damaged his roof.

He said, “I thought it was thunder at first, but it sounded too loud. When I checked, I saw the tree from Diego Martin Central schoolyard crash on my roof. I’m just glad it didn’t wake up my mother, she would have panicked.”

Chairman of the Diego Martin Regional Corporation Sigler Jack told Newsday his team was prepared to deal with all incidents caused by bad weather, and limited resources were the only issue.

At Atlantic Plaza, Point Lisas, a billboard was damaged by the winds. Pieces of galvanise from the Carapichaima East Secondary School roof were ripped off.

There were reports of 35 damaged roofs between Matura and Matelot and 66 damaged homes in the Couva, Tabaquite and Talparo areas.

In Tobago, by 2.30 pm there were 30 reports of landslides and fallen trees and poles, along with damaged roofs, from the Tobago Emergency Management Agency (TEMA). Several villages on the island experienced power outages for up to five hours. Many others on the island reported phone and internet connectivity issues.

Kwesi Des Vignes, the Tobago House of Assembly’s Secretary for the Division of Infrastructure, Quarries and the Environment, told Newsday there was no damage done to public buildings, only private property. With the assistance of TEMA, Des Vignes said his division had mobilised a team to deal with emergency work.

Just after midday, the Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) reported that it had restored electricity to several parts of the country, but power in over 70 areas remained down. The bad weather left thousands without power.

In a release on Friday, the commission said it was working to quickly restore electricity to all affected areas by the end of the day. It said the 75 areas included 16 in Tobago, 14 in the east, 18 in central Trinidad, 19 in south and nine in north Trinidad.

It said all T&TEC crews have been called out.

There were still large-area outages on the North Coast, from Maracas to Blanchisseuse, Rampanalgas and Matura, it said.

“However, supply has been restored in several areas, including Manzanilla, some parts of Sangre Grande and environs, Santa Cruz, Malabar, Crown Point, Hope, parts of Mason Hall, Caparo Valley, Haleland Park and Barataria.”

It also advised that because of the impact of the weather across the country, its call centre has been receiving high numbers of calls and customers might therefore have to wait for a response.

Meanwhile, area corporations were working to remove fallen trees and other debris along major roads across the country.

As scattered showers resumed on Friday afternoon, several areas reported street flooding.

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