Storm rips through Mocha, South R’veldt

- GPL reports extensive network damage in Demerara, Berbice

A fallen sign on the East Bank Demerara Public Road

Taking note of the strong gusts of wind on Sunday, Mocha resident Andrew Little predicted that there was going to be a storm. He got far more than he bargained for as the storm cut a path of damage through the village.

“Ey come down quick deh!” Little, of 11A Carol’s Place, Mocha, recalled shouting to a friend, who was helping him fix his shed, after he noticed the strong wind. He said that he shouted to the children who were on the road to get shelter. “I told my neighbour many times to chop down this tree but she never listened. Look what happened now,” Little said yesterday, while pointing out the fallen coconut tree that landed on his roof.

The storm cut through certain parts of the village on Sunday, leaving some residents without power and tending to damage to their homes.

According to an official of the Hydrometeorlogical department, the storm was the result of a squall line, which is a line of clouds associated with heavy rainfall, lightning, and strong straight-line winds. While there would be essential warning for areas that are predicted to be hit by the squall line, it has an uncanny characteristic of spontaneously developing.

Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) yesterday said its primary and secondary networks sustained extensive damage in Demerara and Berbice due to the stormy weather. Up to yesterday, the company was still trying to restore power to affected residents in both counties.

While some areas were spared the damage wrought by the storms, others like Mocha Arcadia and South Ruimveldt Gardens were not as fortunate as the storm ripped and tore anything that wasn’t secured properly. It toppled trees, posts, signs, and even took apart an antenna tower.

Little was one of the Mocha residents left without power because of the fallen utility posts. He said there were about 80 other residents suffering from a power outage.

Natasha Payne, another resident of the area, recalled the ordeal and the “rocking posts and trees.” “I got meat in me fridge and now all of them spoil because of no electricity. In future we would like GPL to check up every six months on these posts so they can take care of them,” she said.

Another resident recalled witnessing the lantern posts “dancing and swaying” in the heavy winds. “It was about 18 of us under here and then all of a sudden the posts started swaying and heavy, heavy, winds started blowing. Then all of a sudden it went crack and boom and they all crash down with a loud noise,” she recalled, describing the terrifying show of sparking livewire and tree branches shooting across the sky as well as her numbing fear of her home being destroyed.

In South Ruimveldt, the storm ripped through the GWTV station’s antenna tower and flung the long metal debris all over the street. “We saw the rain with the heavy winds but we didn’t think anything and then it sped up and I told my sister we are about to have a hurricane. And by the time we turn around, we heard a loud crash and a bang,” Jazelle Nelson, of 104 Cane View Avenue described the ordeal of the giant antenna tower crashing onto her roof.

 

‘Major effect’

 

In a statement, GPL said the major effect of the stormy weather was the uprooting/breaking of both primary and secondary poles as well as damage caused by falling roof sheets and trees. It said a total of 21 broken poles had been recorded in Demerara, while Berbice has recorded five so far. In addition, it confirmed six precariously leaning poles in Demerara and one in Berbice.

GPL noted that consumers in the affected areas experienced outages and fluctuating voltage of varying durations while emergency crews continued to effect repairs to the network. “Much success has been achieved since last evening as several communities were repowered, owing to the strengthening of emergency services by almost triple the usual number,” it added, while crediting machinery support from the management of Demerara Harbour Bridge.

According to GPL, the most critical confirmed report emanating from Berbice was the disruption of power for East Berbice residents due to a broken pole at Ithaca, which supports a critical transmission line linking East and West Berbice.

It said the technical work required to replace the pole could not have been executed on Sunday owing to its location and the unfavourable weather conditions. However, works were ongoing and electricity was expected to be restored by 6 pm yesterday.

GPL added that crews were also working along the East Bank Demerara corridors to replace damaged line hardware and securing leaning poles and replacing broken ones. These works were also expected to be completed by 6 pm yesterday.

GPL noted that its approach to emergencies has been segmented into high risk and low risk for which it has distinct skilled crews. “Numerous crews are currently engaged in mopping up operations and addressing isolated cases where individual consumers may have had service interruption caused by the high winds while the very highly skilled crews are engaged in pole replanting and fixing damaged line hardware,” it said.

The company also appealed to the public for patience as well as caution around fallen poles and lines. It advised that anyone experiencing abnormal voltages should power off the main switch and call its emergency hotlines (2254015 or 2254016 in Demerara and 333-2186 in Berbice).

 

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