Al-Rawi: Prepare for worst, pray for best

A man hurrys through heavy rain on Frederick Street, Port of Spain on Tuesday. - SUREASH CHOLAI
A man hurrys through heavy rain on Frederick Street, Port of Spain on Tuesday. - SUREASH CHOLAI

MINISTER of Local Government Faris Al-Rawi on Wednesday evening told Newsday he was "preparing for the worst but praying for the best" as the country awaited an approaching tropical wave which the Met Office had said was almost guaranteed to impact the country with a deluge of water.

He said all 14 local government corporations plus his head office "are in active field work right now" aided by the police, Defence Force, WASA, TTEC, SWMCOL.

Al-Rawi said the focus was on observing the rainfall which he said was coming in spurts just as predicted.

"It's fairly heavy rainfall. We are paying attention to how water-logged the area is.

"We had reports of typical landslides coming down in what I'd call 'the usual suspect' areas - the north coast, Matelot, etcetera. As you'd recall we had some landslides a couple of weeks ago and the water has been so heavy and present that the soil is still extremely waterlogged."

Al-Rawi said the ministry has placed backhoes in certain spots in the event landslips occur there.

"Right now we've made a call to all citizens to be prepared as best as they can. We are physically assisting in all reports that we get."

He said his ministry was offering sandbags.

"We have approximately 25,000 sandbags in circulation, as we speak.

"But right now we are just encouraging people to report issues that may become a difficulty in heavy rain, or to report matters that have actually happened, and also to take self-care and self-protection as best as possible." This latter included properly positioning their appliances, looking after their livestock and utilising sandbags.

"So all agencies are on full alert.

"We are not under a tropical storm watch but there is a significant amount of water and we are therefore being very serious about it.

"We have the municipal police as eyes and ears everywhere, double checking what is real news from fake news. We are physically paying attention to the water levels."

Al-Rawi said he has been in close contact with the Ministers of Public Utilities, Works and Transport, National Security, and Communications.

National Hurricane Centre in Miami at 2 pm on Wednesday gave an update. "A tropical wave is producing shower and thunderstorm activity near the southern Windward Islands and over adjacent waters. The system continues to show signs of organization, and it will likely become a tropical depression within the next couple of days." The disturbance was forecast to move west-northwestward across the southern Windward Islands on Wednesday and later this week toward the central Caribbean Sea.

"Interests in the Windward Islands should closely monitor the progress of this system as heavy rainfall and gusty winds are affecting these islands.

"Regardless of development, heavy rainfall is forecast to affect north-western Venezuela, north-eastern Colombia, and the ABC (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) island chain later this week. An Air Force Reserve reconnaissance aircraft is scheduled to survey the system this evening." The NHC cited a 70 per cent chance of formation into a system within the next 48 hours and a 90 per cent chance within the next five days.

The TT Met Office at 4.23 pm on Wednesday predicted the weather for Wednesday night and Thursday. "Mostly cloudy with showers and/or periods of rain and the high chance of isolated thunderstorms with gradual improvement during the afternoon/evening. Adverse Weather Alert #2 – Yellow Level is in effect." It listed the 24 hour rainfall on Wednesday as Piarco - 16.7 mm and Crown Point - 36.3 mm.

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) at 1 pm on Wednesday issued a summary of incidents reported, in its six regions of TT.

The ODPM said no incidents were reported in the north west, north central, south central, and south west regions.

In the east region the ODPM cited the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation to report, "There is a report of residential flooding at Caratal Road, Cumuto."

In Tobago, the ODPM cited TEMA to state, "There is a report of a fallen tree blocking the roadway on the Roxborough, Bloody Bay link road, in the vicinity of the Roxborough Secondary School."

Anecdotal reports sent in by Facebook to Newsday by citizens reported moderate to very heavy rainfall for much of the day in El Dorado, with gusty winds and lightning and thunder. Residents of Port of Spain and Cascade reported very overcast skies and a steady drizzle, one describing it as a very extensive but light "white rain." The weather in Petit Valley and Diego Marin was reported as very bleak, with overcast skies and light-to-moderate showers for at least an hour in the early evening. Reports from San Fernando were rainfall of medium intensity, on and off, from morning to afternoon. By 5 pm the city was very overcast with heavy rainfall, but without any thunder and lightning, gusty winds or major flooding.


"Al-Rawi: Prepare for worst, pray for best"

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