PORT OF SPAIN –– Residents living within the precincts of the Diego Martin, Petit Valley, Tunapuna/Piarco and Sangre Grande regional corporations were among the hardest hit by yesterday’s weak tropical wave that left close to 25 homes without roofs and many more without electricity supply for hours.
But officials of the Met Office at Piarco explained yesterday that the wave, which was accompanied by strong low level winds that brought heavy showers, thunderstorms and gusty winds, was a “normal rainy season feature”. Officials said because the wave was coupled with the “relatively strong winds in the lower levels of the atmosphere”, it had created what many of the affected people claimed was a freak storm.
Chairman of the Sangre Grande Regional Corporation, Terry Rondon, said ten homeowners along Quarry Road and Tattoo Trace, Valencia, lost their roofs when the strong winds hit their community. The unfortunate incidents occurred shortly after 3 a.m. yesterday, following the start of the heavy rains. Contacted while out assessing the damage, Rondon praised the corporation’s Disaster Management Unit (DMU) for its efforts in assisting residents. Rondon said Tamasine Williams, 70, of Quarry Road, Valencia, was the hardest hit in his area. Her entire roof was blown off and her personal belongings, furniture, groceries and other items destroyed by drenching rain.
Saying DMU officers had been out before 5 a.m., Rondon explained that affected residents were provided with tarpaulins and mattresses within a reasonable time. Officials from the National Commission for Self-Help also accompanied corporation officials on visits to affected residents, providing them with advice on how to access financing to replace their roofs. Crews were also assisting in clean-ups.
Rondon said there were no reports of flooding or power outages in his district, adding he had never experienced “something like this”. Rondon surmised it was probably a tornado, as welded iron fittings were uprooted and destroyed in some areas. In the Tunapuna/Piarco Regional Corporation area chairman Edwin Gooding said all the calls for help had been dealt with by 2 p.m.
These included homes that had lost roofs in Pinto, Arima; El Dorado, Tunapuna and Maracas Valley, St Joseph.
However, he said the DMU’s last call came around 2:30 p.m. from a resident in Aripo and a crew was dispatched to assess the damage and render assistance. Gooding said they were also distributing tarpaulins and mattresses to affected residents, while Self-Help officials were carrying out assessment and advising residents on available funding to aid with rebuilding efforts.
In the Blanchisseusse area, where several trees had fallen across the roadway, Gooding said residents themselves had assisted with cutting and removing the debris. Although no one in his district experienced power cuts, Gooding said the supply had to be temporarily turned off in Maracas Valley so workers could remove a roof which had blown off and landed on electricity lines connected to the affected house. Gooding said the temporary disruption affected several other homes on the street, as they were unable to effect repairs until the power supply was disconnected. The work was completed by 2:30 p.m. yesterday and the supply was turned back on.
Happy to report that there was no flooding in his region, Gooding attributed that to previous work done to clear drains and ravines in the area. Unlike his counterparts in Sangre Grande and Tunapuna/Piarco, Diego Martin Regional Corporation chairman Daryl Smith said his area was “hit real bad”. Up to 3 p.m. yesterday, Smith said work was still being done to assist affected residents as they too distributed tarpaulins and mattresses. Smith said nine homes in Cocorite reported their roofs being blown off; while there were two reports from Sea View Hill, Carenage; three from La Horquette Valley Road, Glencoe; and one from Mercer Road, Diego Martin.
Admitting that power outages had also left many residents in Maraval, Petit Valley, Carenage and Diego Martin without a supply, Smith said work was set to continue into last night to rectify the problems. Praising Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) work crews for their efforts to restore power, Smith said Fire Services officers had also assisted in cutting and removing fallen trees.
Also working with the Self-Help officials who visited the affected residents, Smith said he was heartened that there had been no flooding.
“We are hoping that weather system has passed and is now behind us. We are working together now to get people safe, secure and comfortable once again,” he added.
In a release issued around 3 p.m. yesterday, T&TEC said the electricity supply had been restored to over 70 per cent of customers who were affected by Wednesday’s heavy rains and gusty winds. T&TEC corporate communications manager Annabelle Brasnell said customers along the East-West Corridor suffered outages after fallen trees had damaged power lines and poles.
She said emergency response crews began working to restore power early yesterday and had effected repairs in Arima, Valsayn, Curepe, Cascade, St Joseph, Carapo, Valencia, Sangre Grande, Lady Young Road, Maraval and Carenage. Work was still continuing in isolated areas, including parts of Woodbrook, Long Circular and Petit Valley, she added.
T&TEC has introduced two additional emergency contact numbers for customers, who can now report any problems with their supply by contacting 794-4823, 794-7264 and 800-TTEC (8832).