ALL Trinidad and Tobago nationals in the United States are "safe and accounted for" as that country braces to be hit by Hurricane Sandy, Ambassador Dr Neil Parsan has said.
Parsan is this country's ambassador to the United States.
"The hurricane is hitting, the hurricane is coming with intensity, they have not seen a hybrid like this in over 100 years. It is a mix-up of a hurricane coming from the Caribbean, an arctic front coming down from the north pole, it is a mix-up of jet stream streaking across from the west to the east of the United States and it's a full moon at high tide.
"It is almost the perfect storm," Parsan said in a telephone interview with the Express yesterday.
"As we speak I am looking outside my window at winds that are about 35 to 40 miles an hour. The wind is beating pretty hard and has been doing so for past four to five hours," Parsan said around 2 p.m. yesterday.
And, Communications Minister Jamal Mohammed has called on citizens to pray for all those who are in Hurricane Sandy's path.
"We do not have an official government position on the situation but we have been in contact with Dr Parsan. Our prayers are with those preparing to face Hurricane Sandy's wrath and we are asking all citizens to pray for them too," Mohammed told the Express in a telephone interview.
Attempts to contact Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran, including e-mails to the ministry's communications department, proved futile yesterday.
Hurricane Sandy began bearing down on the United States East Coast yesterday as it neared landfall.
A large number of Trinidad and Tobago nationals living in the United States can be found in New York, New Jersey and Washington DC.
New York, New Jersey and Washington DC. were all expected to be hit by Hurricane Sandy.
Parsan said he has been in contact with Consular General of Trinidad and Tobago in New York, Rudrawatee Nan Gosine-Ramgoolam, since Saturday in relation to the impending hurricane.
The offices of the Trinidad and Tobago embassy located in Washington DC and the consulate general in New York were closed as a result of those discussions.
"Where our offices are in New York it is in a place called Maiden Lane, which is two blocks away from Wall Street. That entire area is classified as 'Zone A' and there is a mandatory evacuation," Parsan said.
The offices were closed yesterday and their doors are expected to remain shut again today.
"We may extend that depending. Our mission right now is saving life and limb and not necessarily looking at productivity.
"It is about saving lives and looking after our staff and nationals," Parsan said.
Services have grounded to a halt, Parsan said.
United States President Barack Obama yesterday announced a federal state of emergency in a total of six states including New York and Washington.
"These areas are where most of our diaspora have been concentrated," Parsan said.
Parsan said he held two public engagements over the weekend and he used the opportunity to network with Trinidad and Tobago nationals.
He has also been utilising social media, including Facebook and Twitter, to reach out to nationals.
"I have been in contact with heads of associations, NGOs (non government organisations). We have been playing close attention to the student population in particular because we have a total of 3,000 students in our area," he said.
Parsan yesterday issued a call for all those in the United States, who have not alerted the embassy of their presence to get registered.
"We are trying to reach out to those who have not yet registered with the embassy, so if they run into problems we can access them and they can access us. Whatever resources we have, whatever expertise we can in times of crisis and reach out and help the community," Parsan said.
Parsan said while they brace for the hurricane, the real test would be the aftermath.
"The last time we had a storm the electricity was out for a week, so if Hurricane Sandy is as devastating as we think, I fear what will happen after," he said.
Parsan invited all citizens living in the United States to contact him via e-mail at email@example.com, if possible.
Flights have been grounded to and from the Caribbean at New York's three major airports—John F Kennedy International, La Guardia and Newark International.