Residents of some sections of the Mabaruma sub-region in the North West District breathed a sigh of relief yesterday after it seemed that the severe thunderstorms with streaks of lightning which dominated most of last week had passed.
The effects were said to be associated with the passage of Tropical Storm Tomas which has devastated sections of the Caribbean islands in the Lesser Antilles, and the Mabaruma sub-region, positioned at the northern extremity of Guyana, was expected to experience conditions associated with the weather phenomenon.
Residents of Wauna in the Mabaruma sub-region told Stabroek News during a visit to the area on Monday that the community and nearby villages experienced heavy rainfall in the days preceding the build-up of the tropical depression. Wauna is located at the northern tip of the sub-region.
Head teacher of the Wauna Primary School, Ms Basanti told Stabroek News that around lunchtime last Wednesday that the community experienced an “unusual” period of heavy rainfall when in recent weeks the community had been experiencing bright sunshine during the day and around twilight rain would swamp parts of the community.
She said as the rain poured on Wednesday flashes of lightning became frequent and persons began to take necessary precautions since in the past there had been instances of persons being struck by lightning at Wauna. One such incident occurred last year she said, when a young man from the community was hospitalized for weeks after one of his feet was hit by a lightning bolt.
The headmistress said rain swamped the area for most of Wednesday and on Thursday. On Wednesday also, she said, two students of Grade 8 and Grade 9 sustained minor injuries after they were hit by metallic objects during the thunderstorm.
The incidents occurred after school hours and according to reports one of the girls, 14-year-old Vanessa Solomon was experiencing pain in one of her legs after it made contact with a metal object which was hit by lightning. Her school mate was hit on the chin by pair of a scissors which was also struck by lightning.
Both teens were briefly hospitalized at the Mabaruma Public Hospital. Basanti said last week’s weather was the worst she has experienced in recent times.
At Mabaruma and Hosororo, communities located south of Wauna, residents told Stabroek News they had experienced periods of heavy rainfall last week.
They said while the predominantly hill-top communities do not experience flooding, thunderstorms characterized by high winds and lightning usually occur during August. Recently, such wet weather conditions have been occurring in the fourth quarter.
On Friday evening, power supply to these areas was disrupted after heavy winds bridged power lines and according to persons there, early in the afternoon winds with speeds in excess of 25 knots caused several roofs to lose zinc sheets. Residents said their electrical appliances, including freezers, were damaged due to power fluctuations.
Last weekend, residents were preparing for any eventuality associated with the storm, some householders told Stabroek News that they had doubled- up their food supplies while some kept their fingers crossed. Most expressed hope that nothing would happen.
Overcast weather conditions dominated the days over the weekend but heavy winds in the afternoons and even-ings preceded clear skies which characterized most of the nights within the past four days.
The business community of Kumaka, the hub of the sub-region was on the lookout for severe weather conditions with most persons fearful of the weather impacting on the deteriorating sea-defence. A large portion of the sea defence has fallen into the nearby Aruka River and businesspersons noted that if heavy waves, which are usually associated with tropical depressions, overtopped the foreshore the entire community would be at severe risk of disappearing.
Yesterday, the community experienced overcast conditions for most of the day with periods of rains and sunshine during the midday period and light rains in the afternoon.
The Mabaruma sub-region, because of its geographical location, would at times experience the effects of natural disasters occurring in the parts of the Caribbean. Residents recalled being in a state of panic when an earthquake struck parts of Martinique a few years ago. As a result, they are always on the lookout for such occurrences.