The severity of the weather system that brought the island to a virtual standstill today took emergency management officials by surprise, it has been revealed.
Programme Officer at the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) Danielle Skeete said the department had been keeping an eye on the system as it moved down the island chain.
However, Skeete said disaster preparedness officials did not anticipate that it would have lasted as long as it did when it reached Barbados, nor did the department expect the amount of rainfall that it dumped on the island.
“We realize it was moving down the island chain. We saw the effects in Dominica and St Vincent but we did not anticipate that it would hit us for the entire day, nor did we foresee the amount of rain which fell,” the DEM official said.
With the trough system combined with the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone dumping between three and six inches on rain on the island, homes were flooded, trees came tumbling down, damaging vehicles, roads were rendered impassable and traffic was a nightmare for several hours.
The Barbados fire service was called into action to rescue several persons who were trapped in their homes due to rising water levels, while two persons had to be rescued from their vehicles in Bush Hall, St Michael and Holders Hill, St James.
The system had already caused havoc in the neighbouring island of St Vincent, destroying bridges and homes and even unearthing graves in the north of the island.
A report issued by the DEM late this evening indicated that nine roads in the parish of St Michael were rendered impassable through flooding or damage, while St Philip, Christ Church, St Andrew, St Thomas and St James had roadways which were unable to accommodate through traffic. All access to St Andrew was cut off with the exception of the Farley Hill, St Peter route. The situation was compounded by crawling traffic as Barbadians tried to make their way home.
Nine houses were damaged as a result of flooding in St George, Christ Church, St Philip and St Michael, while downed utility poles were also reported in St Thomas and St Philip. This resulted in power outages in St Philip, Warrens, St Michael and parts of Christ Church.
Barbados TODAY was advised that by the time of publication most of the affected areas had power restored, with exception of some parts of St Philip.
The unstable weather did not spare the 50th anniversary of Independence celebrations, sending the organizers, the 50th Anniversary of Independence Celebrations Secretariat, scrambling to reschedule events.
Perhaps the biggest casualty is the Independence Day Parade, which was scheduled for tomorrow morning at the Garrison Savannah.
According to a release from the Barbados Government Information Service late this evening, this event will now be held on Thursday, December 1 at 6 p.m. at Kensington Oval. It will be followed by a march by the troops through Bridgetown.
The Independence Day Parade is normally one of the most highly anticipated events on the Barbados Independence calendar, as Barbadians flock in their numbers to the Garrison Savannah for the military-style spectacle.
It was expected to have special significance this year due to the 50th anniversary.
The major activity which was scheduled for tonight, the Reveal of the 50th Anniversary of Independence National Monument was rescheduled to tomorrow at 7 p.m., pushing back by an hour, the Golden Anniversary Spectacular Mega Concert featuring international star Rihanna singing the National Anthem.
That event is now scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. tomorrow at Kensington Oval, while the Toast of the Nation will now take place tomorrow at St Ann’s Fort at 4 p.m.
In addition to the official events, a number of special activities also suffered from the inclement weather.
The highly anticipated Barbados Is Music concert featuring Krosfyah, Square One and Coalition, which was scheduled for tonight, was postponed until Sunday, December 4.
The promoters posted a notice to their social media pages informing ticket holders of the change.
“The promoters of Digicel Barbados Is Music wish to inform the public that the show has been postponed due the severe inclement weather today, which has caused flooding in several areas across the island.
The new date for the show is this Sunday, December 4 at Kensington Oval. All tickets already purchased are eligible for the new date. We thank you for your tremendous support to date and encourage you to take every precaution to stay safe at this time,” the notice said.
However, some visitors who had purchased tickets for the show have been inquiring about ticket refunds since they would be returning home before the new date.
Efforts to reach the promoters for further comment were unsuccessful.
The Hilton 50/50 event also scheduled for tonight was rescheduled until Friday night.
The Met Office told Barbados TODAY late this evening that while there continued to be quite some clouds around, the worst was behind us. It said it continued to monitor the situation.