CITIZENS are being urged to prepare for the worst as a potential tropical cyclone churns its way through the mid-Atlantic with Trinidad and Tobago in its sights.
As of 2 p.m. yesterday, the Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service warned that the system “is likely” to turn into a tropical depression with effects being felt as early as tomorrow.
“Regardless of intensification or development of the system significant moisture and peripheral instability will bring heavy rainfall and gusty winds to Trinidad and Tobago and the Windward Islands from Tuesday night into Wednesday morning,” the Met Services warned.
The alarm buzzer was pressed yesterday during a virtual news conference hosted by Local Government Minister Faris Al-Rawi.
Flanking him on the head table were Works Minister Rohan Sinanan, Public Utilities Minister Marvin Gonzales while Communications Minister Symon De Nobriga led the conversation.
Col Rodney Smart of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) was also present along with a representative of the Met Service.
Al-Rawi explained that as one of the first responders to any disaster regional corporations were all on high alert. He added that heavy rainfall yesterday, with much more expected this week, would mean that the Disaster Management Units in each of the regional corporation are going to be activated as flooding is expected.
He explained, however, that since March this year most of the corporations began an “extensive” de-silting programme of rivers and watercourses. He said that while this may help in the run-off of waters, high tides and high volume may still be too much for the watercourses to drain off, adding that those who may need sandbags can check with their regional corporations as “they are available”. He however called on owners of livestock to take precautions to prevent injury and death to their animals.
Minister Sinanan said his ministry began a de-silting programme in January.
“So far these watercourses are able to cope, but what we are seeing is a lot more downpour over the next few days and next week,” he said.
He said teams were monitoring these rivers for potential blockages while equipment such as dump trucks and backhoes had also been placed “in strategic areas” all around the country to ensure a relatively quick response to landslides and blocked roads. He also said that pumps tasked with removing flood waters from downtown Port of Spain were “up and running” after being vandalised in October last year. Pumps at Bamboo Settlement #3 were also working.
Minister Gonzales advised that all utility companies were on high alert. He explained, however, that during this week’s rains some customers may lose their water supply. He said during heavy showers when “surface water supplies” such as rivers get contaminated with silt WASA shuts down its pumps to prevent it from being damaged by excess dirt.
Police, firefighters and army on alert
Gonzales, who is also acting as National Security Minister, said the police, Defence Force and Fire Service were also on high alert.
The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service has been monitoring the progress of a strong tropical wave in the Atlantic, which has the potential for cyclone development over the next few days. Regardless of intensification or development of the system significant moisture associated with this system will bring heavy rainfall and gusty winds to Trinidad and Tobago and the Windward Islands from Tuesday night into Wednesday morning.
The Met Service added that, “This system is forecast to continue on a westward track over the tropical Atlantic and after leaving the Windward Islands is expected move across the south-eastern Caribbean Sea on Wednesday and Thursday.”
The Met Service said that by this morning with favourable conditions the storm may get stronger and may turn into a tropical depression with wind speeds of 36 km/hr which can go up to 60 km/hr, which is the precursor to a tropical storm. A tropical storm carries wind-speeds between 63 and 117 km/hr.
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