Friday, October 20, 2017

Winds rip off roofs in South

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repairs: Workmen cover the damaged section of the roof on the SWRHA office yesterday at San Fernando General Hospital following storm-like conditions. —Photo: DEXTER PHILIP

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Thunderstorms whipped up winds that caused damage and destruction from east coast Mayaro to west coast San Fernando yesterday.

Damage to homes occurred as far north as Caroni.

Up to last night, the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) was still counting the number of houses where all, or a portion of the roof, were lost.

Among the casualties — the headquarters of the South West Regional Health Authority (SWRHA) at Paradise Pasture, Independence Avenue, San Fernando, where a section of the roof was ripped off.

The building was evacuated and workers covered the hole with tarpaulin to protect against overnight rains.

An official of the Meteorological Office at Piarco said the bad weather was caused by the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ).

The ODPM reported damage in at least 27 regions of Trinidad. First responders were called out to clear fallen trees and branches and provide temporary shelter to the homeless.

ODPM head Dr Stephen Ramroop said damage reports were received from areas spanning Guayaguayare to San Fernando.

"We got calls from Piparo, Guayaguayare, Williamsville, several parts of Princes Town, Caratal, Marabella and San Fernando," he said.

Reports reaching the Express newsroom also spoke of damage to homes at St Margarets and Claxton Bay.

Ramroop said roofs had been lost and trees and power lines downed— some falling on homes.

There were no reports of injuries.

The wind was so intense that metal roofing sheets were left wrapped around power lines, with a wooden beam puncturing the metal body of a vehicle.

Member of Parliament for Princes Town Nela Khan said in her area 11 homes were damaged and the windows of one house shattered.

Ramroop said coordinators from the Disaster Management Unit of the corporations were at the scene along with the Fire Services, Trinidad and Tobago Electricity Commission and representatives from the regional corporations. He also said the Community-based Environmental Protection and Enhancement Programme (CEPEP) had been assisting families in their relocation to the homes of other family members.

Ramroop said he was satisfied with the response. Social Development Minister Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh said five homes were damaged in his Caroni Central constituency. He intends visiting today.

At Caratal Road, Gasparillo five houses were affected including the Hickson family's home.

Teenager Dellanna Hickson, 17, said it was around 2.30 p.m. while she was dressing to attend evening classes that she felt the house shake.

"The chennette tree outside was leaning toward my house so I ran outside," Hickson said.

She said she saw the galvanise metal roofing sheets of her home blowing away.

"About three quarter of the roof was lost. I ran across by the neighbour," the teenager said.

Hickson shares the home with her parents and 63-year-old grandfather. Four other homes were also affected including that of a 67-year-old man.