Extreme weather tears through central Trinidad

(Trinidad Express) Parts of central Trinidad were hit by extreme weather today,
with some resident’s reporting seeing a tornado-like phenomenon
during an intense rainstorm that lasted less than an hour.
The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM)
has issued a bulletin, warning of more bad weather to come.

Flash floods and wind-related damage was reported at.Warden Lane, Penco Avenue and Cemetery Street, Longdenville; Caroni Savannah Road, Cunupia; and Aisle Street, Enterprise.

Electrical power has been knocked out, and areas of central were without electricity as at 4p.m.

And businesses are reporting hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses as a result of the flood waters.
Radica Mohammed, who operates a FireOne Fireworks franchise near Price Plaza, Chaguanas, said “when I saw the rains, I saw the water rising and I realised it was a disaster waiting to happen”.
Mohammed said she attempted to raise her tent above the level of the rising water.
“I called the Chaguanas Borough Corporation and they kept transferring me from person to person. Finally someone told me it is not their concern, but a matter for the Ministry of Works”.
She said that within ten minutes the entire mall compound was flooded.
She said she could only look on helplessly as the products floated away.
Mohammed said she saw some cars covered in more than four feet of water.
Mohammed said she had called the Corporation a week ago to alert them that the drains around the mall needed cleaning, but nothing was done.

The Express spoke with residents of Church Road, and Jerninham Road, Cunupia who described the event.

Lincoln Francis, 73, said that at around 1p.m, the storm hit.
He said “the wind was spinning like in those big countries, when it have tornadoes and the wind was taking up everything with it. Half of the galvanise (roofing sheets) and the ceiling of the house gone.
Francis, who has a radiator repair business, said “I told my wife I see how them people in America does suffer”.

Flash flooding was also being reported at Price Plaza, the main shopping district of Chaguanas, and Mulchan Seuchan Road which runs parallel to the Uriah Butler highway near the Endeavor overpass.
Francis’s daughter Karen Francis, 27, said extreme weather started with a drizzle.

“And then suddenly there was a downpour. The wind became heavy and loud and made a rumbling. We looked out to see what was happening. The place was gray and things were flying in the air. Galvanize (roofing sheets) were flying. It came down on us, and out galvanise and ceiling went over to the neighbours’ house. Other houses us also looked destroyed”.

The rain has also hit the function being held this afternoon to officially open the Golconda to Debe segment of the Solomon Hochoy highway extension to Point Fortin. The function has been cut short as a result of the inclement weather.

The ODPM has the following alert –
The Trinidad and Tobago Meteorological Service has issued a bulletin at 3:00 p.m. informing the public the parts of Trinidad are currently experiencing moderate to heavy showers and isolated thundershowers. This adverse weather is as a result of local thermal dynamics. Winds may gust in excess of 50 km/her in heavy showers and thundershowers. Street/flash flooding is expected in heavy downpours and in flood prone locations from this rainfall activity. Gradual improvement is expected towards evening. Citizens are advised to be vigilant and cautious as they conduct their daily activities given forecast weather conditions. Be alert to any electrical discharges from thundercloud activity and adopt measures which would preserve life and property.
The ODPM, as the lead coordinator of emergency management, has put the first responder agencies (TT Fire Service, TT Defence Force and the municipal corporations) on alert so that immediate assistance can be rendered if any adverse impact occurs. There have been reports of flooding emerging from the Chaguanas area.The ODPM reminds all citizens that if they have been affected by this inclement weather, to please contact our Customer Care Centre at 511 and check our website www.odpm.gov.tt for additional safety tips.

Consequently, we continue to underscore the following:-
After heavy rainfall, stay inside until water levels have subsided and it is safe to venture outside.
Do not walk / drive through flood waters.
Be cautious when walking /driving along hillsides or landslide prone areas.

Trinidad and Tobago is NOT currently under any Tropical Storm threat, Watch or Warning. The TT Meteorological Service is monitoring this weather condition and will advise the ODPM if there is a drastic change.

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